One of Sweden’s largest cities, Gothenburg, was rocked by gunfire late on Wednesday, March 17, when two men walked into a crowded bar and opened fire with automatic weapons. The shooting attack, which authorities are treating as gang violence, left two men dead and between 10 and 15 wounded. Bullets flew through the popular social spot while patrons watched a football game.
The establishment in which the shooting occurred is known as the Var Krog och Bar, according to the Irish Independent, and has operated in its Biskopsgarden location for 20 years. However, the shooting on Wednesday has placed a spotlight on the neighbourhood, which is said to be renowned for gang violence. Police spokesperson Bjoer Blixte explained the shooting to the press and provided wider context for what seems to be an escalation of violence.
“Two died and between 10 and 15 were wounded. We are assuming that this is gang-related and not a terrorist attack. We’ve had similar problems with shootings for several years, but never of this magnitude.”
Furthering the suspicion of gang-related motivations, spokesperson Blixter also confirmed to the press that persons inside the bar at the time of the shooting were known to have gang affiliations and associations, though he also stressed that “innocent people have been hit.” A shooting eyewitness, identifying himself only as Rocky, detailed his experience inside the bar to the press.
“I didn’t have time to think what was happening. Then I saw that my friend was bleeding. I tried to stop the flow of blood as well as I could with my hands.”
While the Local reported that eight of the wounded had been taken to Sahlgrenska University Hospital, police continued their murder investigation amid speculation that gang violence and the number of shooting incidents in the Gothenburg area are reaching epidemic levels. Among the dozens of gang-related shootings to have plagued Gothenburg in recent years, an incident in January on the street outside the Var Krog och Bar left one man with a bullet wound to the leg.
Amir Rostami, a sociologist working with Stockholm County Police and Stockholm University, explained to the Local how gang violence in Sweden has increased and how society has failed in its attempts to stop it.
“Historically, we’ve had problems since the early 1990s, with motorcycle gangs being the first on the scene. Some years ago, it used to be very strong groups controlling the criminal world, but today, we’ve got more and a lot smaller groups fighting over control of their areas – and that has increased the number of conflicts we see between groups and individuals.
“The society has a collective responsibility in that it has failed to take care of problems like unemployment and alienation. The police have handled separate incidents, but have on the whole not been successful in turning this around.”
As of Thursday, March 18, no arrests have been made in the gang-related pub shooting in Gothenburg, Sweden. A large-scale murder investigation is underway.
[Image: Scott Olson/Getty Images]