A LONGTIME employee opened fire at a wood-processing company in central Switzerland on Wednesday, leaving three people dead including the assailant, police said.
A further seven people were wounded, six of them seriously, in the shooting at the premises of Kronospan, in the small town of Menznau, Lucerne criminal police chief Daniel Bussmann said.
Bussmann told a news conference in Menznau that the man was 42 years old, Swiss newspaper Blick reported on its website. Both the suspected shooter and the victims were Swiss.
He said the man arrived at the premises shortly after 9 a.m., drew a pistol and started firing at people. Officials didn’t immediately have further details on the weapon or information on how the assailant was killed.
Kronospan Chief Executive Mauro Capozzo said that the suspected assailant had been “with us for more than 10 years - a quiet man, no other incidents involving him are known.”
According to the local town council, Kronospan has some 450 employees. There was no immediate word on a possible motive; Capozzo said the company hasn’t laid anyone off recently.
Gun ownership is widespread in Switzerland, thanks to liberal regulation - a 2011 referendum to tighten controls failed - and a long-standing tradition for men to keep their military rifles after completing compulsory military service.
An estimated 2.3 million firearms are owned by the country’s 8 million people.
But gun crime is relatively rare, with just 24 gun killings in 2009, which works out to a rate of about 0.3 per 100,000 inhabitants. The U.S. rate that year was about 11 times higher.
Still, there have been several high-profile incidents over the years, including the killing of 14 people at a city council meeting in Zug, not far from Lucerne, in 2001.
Last month a 33-year-old man killed three women and wounded two men in a southern Swiss village.