NEWS

Citizens helped catch SUV shooter

The police yesterday thanked the public for playing a vital role in the arrest of a 31-year-old suspected of firing randomly from his car at five people in Athens earlier this month. The suspect, an unmarried man who holds a license to operate a taxi, was caught early on Sunday after an Omonia resident tipped off police that a dark-colored Jeep Cherokee resembling the one involved in the shootings was parked in central Athens. Officers lay in wait for the suspect to return to his vehicle and arrested him as he opened the door. Inside the SUV, they found two bullet cartridges as well as traces of gunpowder that linked the owner to the attacks. Police had set up roadblocks in various parts of Athens following the shootings, which took place between December 20 and 22, but the description of the vehicle that was provided by witnesses, as well as the fact that one incident was recorded by a CCTV camera, helped officers identify the type of vehicle used. This information was passed onto the public, which eventually led to the call being placed to police early on Sunday. Attica Crime Squad director Yiannis Dikopoulos said the way in which the unnamed suspect was arrested highlighted how important «the contribution of the public toward fighting crime actually is.» The 31-year-old appeared before a prosecutor yesterday but denied being involved in the attacks. «He is trying to recall his involvement in the attack but he does not remember anything,» lawyer Christos Kanatakis said of his client. The suspect is due to be examined by a psychologist amid suspicion that the alleged gunman suffers from mental problems. Sources said that he lives in a seven-story building in Sepolia, near central Athens, which is owned by his family and, contrary to initial reports that he is a taxi driver, he owns a license to operate a cab but leases it to two other men. Three people were injured during the shootings. A 57-year-old man remains in the hospital after suffering spinal injuries while a 42-year-old woman is still in the Red Cross Hospital with serious stomach injuries.