MILAN (AP) — The extreme right-wing suspect in a shooting rampage that wounded six African migrants in Italy has demonstrated no remorse for his actions and was “lucid and determined, aware of what he had done,” an Italian law enforcement official said Sunday.
Luca Traini, 28, was being held in jail as police investigate him on multiple counts of attempted murder for Saturday’s shooting rampage in the central Italian city of Macerata, with the aggravating circumstance of “racial hatred.”
Police photos showed the shooting suspect with a neo-Nazi tattoo prominently on his forehead and an Italian flag tied around his neck.
Video of the suspect’s bedroom provided by the Italian Carabinieri on Sunday showed Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf,” other publications linked to Nazism and a flag with a Celtic cross — a symbol commonly used by white supremacists.
Traini was an unsuccessful candidate last year in a local election for the anti-migrant Northern League party and friends have been quoted by ANSA as saying he previously had ties with the neo-fascist Forza Nuova and the CasaPound political parties.
Col. Michele Roberti, the Carabineri commander in Macerata, told Sky TG24 that “it’s likely that he carried out this crazy gesture as a sort of retaliation, a sort of vendetta” after a Nigerian man was arrested in the gruesome slaying of an Italian teenager a few days previously in the same city.
The dismembered remains of Pamela Mastropietro, 18, were found in two suitcases days after she walked away from a drug rehab community. Police arrested the Nigerian suspect after finding the victim’s bloody clothes in his apartment, along with a receipt from a pharmacy where she had bought a syringe and knives that are consistent with the crime.
Roberti ruled out any connection between Traini and the slain woman.
One of Traini’s victims, a 29-year-old woman identified only as Jennifer, told the daily La Stampa from her hospital bed that she no longer feels free to walk around the city “with peace of mind” after the attack.
“I never hurt anyone. I was talking and laughing with three other people” when she was struck by the bullet, she told the Turin-based newspaper.
One of the six victims —five African men and Jennifer — was treated and released Saturday. The remaining patients were all in stable condition, with one in intensive care and Jennifer facing surgery on her shoulder, doctors said Sunday.
Her boyfriend told the La Repubblica newspaper that they were waiting at a bus station when he saw a man pointing something at them from a car. He realized then that it was a gun.
“I gave Jennifer a push to get her out of the way and threw myself down. And I heard a shot: Boom,” said Ogie Igbinowania.
Jennifer told La Repubblica that she arrived in Italy seven months ago and joined her boyfriend in Macerata.
“I have always been comfortable here. People are friendly. I don’t know why that guy fired at us,” she said.
The shooting spree also came amid a heated electoral campaign in Italy where anti-foreigner sentiment has become a key theme. Italy has struggled with the arrival of hundreds of thousands of migrants in the last few years coming across the Mediterranean Sea in smugglers’ boats.
Italy is heading into a general election on March 4 and the head of the rebranded League party, Matteo Salvini, had capitalized on the teen’s killing in campaign appearances even before the shooting Saturday.
Salvini is pledging to deport 150,000 migrants in his first year in office if his party wins control of parliament — drawing sharp rebukes that he is using the migrant crisis to foment xenophobia for political gain.
Premier Paolo Gentiloni warned in Rome after the attack that “the state will be particularly severe against whoever thinks of feeding the spiral of violence.”