Gunman kills three in Milan court as act of 'vengeance'
A man on trial for fraudulent bankruptcy opened fire in Milan’s courthouse, killing his lawyer, a co-defendant and a judge before being captured nearly 25 kilometres away as he fled on a motorbike, officials said.
A fourth person was also found dead and is believed to have died from a heart attack during the shooting at the Palace of Justice.
The suspect, Claudio Giardiello, was reportedly a defendant in a bankruptcy case. He was arrested in a Milan suburb after fleeing the scene on a motorbike.
The dead are said to include his former lawyer and a bankruptcy court judge.
The shooting has prompted scrutiny of security procedures at the courthouse.
Questions are being asked about how Mr Giardiello allegedly managed to smuggle a weapon into a well-guarded building, use it several times and escape.
The suspect was arrested by carabinieri officers in Vimercate, about 25 kilometres north-east of central Milan, near the town of Monza.
Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said the “presumed assassin” was now being held at a military police barracks in the Milan area.
The sound of gunfire had sparked panic inside the Palace of Justice.
Hundreds of people poured down stairways towards the exits while police and military police officers searched for the gunman.
“All of a sudden we heard at least three or four shots,” lawyer Marcello Ilia told the AFP news agency outside the building.
“We tried to find out what was going on. There were suddenly lots of police officers who told us not to leave the room, they shut us in,” he said.
“After a few minutes we came out. They told us someone in a suit and tie was armed and at large in the court.”
The newspaper ‘La Repubblica’ reported that the gunman had been attending a bankruptcy hearing in relation to the failure of his real estate business when a fight broke out inside the third-floor courtroom.
He pulled out a weapon and shot the lawyer, named as Lorenzo Alberto Claris Appiani, as well as another man, who is said to have been a co-defendant in the case.
According to ‘La Repubblica’, Mr Appiani was a former lawyer for Mr Giardiello who was acting as a witness in the case.
The gunman then left the courtroom and headed to the office of appeals court judge, Fernando Ciampi, shooting him dead.
It is not known if the gunman had any links to the judge.
Another two people were wounded and are being treated at a hospital.
After hiding inside the Palace of Justice for more than an hour, the gunman fled on a motorbike.
Mr Giardiello was described as “aggressive” and “a little paranoid” by his former lawyer, Valerio Maraniello, in comments quoted by AFP news agency.
The court building is in the centre of Milan, only a few streets away from the city’s historic cathedral.
Visitors to the Palace of Justice normally have to pass through metal detectors.
Lawyers and courthouse employees with official identification are, however, regularly waved through.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi described the attack as “a moment of great pain, of sadness”.
He praised the police who arrested the man, but said it was “unthinkable” that someone could enter a court with a weapon, and promised an inquiry into the incident.
Deputy interior minister Filippo Bubbico said an investigation would determine who was to blame for any security lapse, given that the gunman was also not stopped as he moved from one floor to the next to continue the spree, and then was able to flee unimpeded.
“There’s no doubt that this episode signals a non-functioning of the protection mechanisms, which must be employed daily and which have worked for years at the Milan tribunal,” he told Sky TG24.
Security concerns are particularly high in Milan given the May 1 opening of the Expo world’s fair. Mr Alfano was in Milan yesterday to preside over a public security co-ordination meeting for Expo when the shooting erupted.