A lone gunman targeted foreigners in a drive-by shooting spree today in a central Italian city, wounding six people, one of them with life-threatening injuries, before being arrested.
The suspect’s motive wasn’t immediately clear, but the city of Macerata in the central Marche region is still reeling from the gruesome killing and dismemberment of a young Italian woman this week, allegedly at the hands of a Nigerian immigrant.
Police said all those wounded were foreigners and they later confirmed the arrest of a suspect identified as a 28-year-old Italian with no previous record.
A video posted by the newspaper il Resto di Carlino showed a man with an Italian flag draped over his shoulders being arrested by armed Carabinieri officers in the city center, a short distance from where he apparently fled his car on foot.
Macerata Mayor Romano Carancini said that six foreigners were wounded in the two-hour shooting spree, one of them with life-threatening injuries.
Carancini confirmed that all of the victims were black, and acknowledged that “the closeness of these two events makes you imagine that there is a connection.”
The shooting spree came days after the killing of 18-year-old Pamela Mastropietro and amid a heated electoral campaign in Italy where anti-foreigner sentiment has become a key theme.
The head of the anti-migrant Northern League, Matteo Salvini, has capitalized on the killing in campaign appearances, and is pledging to deport 150,000 migrants in his first year in office if his party wins control of parliament and he is named premier.
The teen’s dismembered remains were found Wednesday in two suitcases, two days after she walked away from a drug rehab community.
The news agency ANSA reported that the car was seen in the area where the woman’s body was found and also near where the suspect lived. A video posted by il Resto di Carlino Video showed appeared to be a body on the ground on a shopping street.
Police had warned people to stay inside while the shootings were ongoing. Authorities ordered public transport halted and that students be kept inside schools, which are open on Saturdays.
Italians vote in the general election on March 4.