The 31-year-old taxi driver arrested as the mystery “jeep shooter” was charged with five attempted homicides and weapons violations when he appeared before a public prosecutor on Monday.
He is suspected of carrying out five random attacks on unsuspecting passers-by in Athens and Piraeus during the last eight days, opening fire on them as he passed by in a jeep with tinted windows. Two people were gravely injured in the attacks and another two sustained less serious injuries.
The suspect denies all charges against him, while his defence lawyer has stated that he intends to request that his client undergoes a psychiatric evaluation.
The suspect was caught at a police road block on Sunday while driving a dark khaki jeep that contained 9mm pistol shells. A ballistics investigation showed that the shells came from the same gun used to shoot at the unlucky victims of the mystery shooter. Police also found in the suspect’s possession a 9mm pistol that ballistics tests later confirmed to be the weapon used in at least two of the attacks.
The suspect has been identified as a 31-year-old Greek residing in the working class district of Kolonos and working as a taxi driver.
In statements on Monday, Attica security police chief Yannis Dikopoulos said that the investigation has revealed that the perpetrator has carried out a total of five attacks, injuring four of the targets, while he had also fired shots in the district of Korydallos, near Piraeus, during which a projectile had made a hole in the roof of a woman’s house and landed in the interior of the home. Authorities had originally connected the jeep shooter with only three attacks targeting two men and a woman, all unrelated to each other.
The suspect is charged with:
- The shooting injury of a 16-year-old national from Afghanistan on the night of December 20 in Kolonos.
- The shooting injury of a 45-year-old Bulgarian national on December 21 in the Votanikos district of Athens.
- The serious shooting injury of a 57-year-old Greek man in Moschato, near Piraeus, one hour later on December 21. One bullet was lodged in the spine of the victim, who was still in critical condition on Monday.
- In a third incident on December 21, again in Moschato, the shooting attack against a 42-year-old woman, who was not injured.
- The shooting of a 47-year-old woman, who was seriously injured in the abdomen, on December 22 in Kolonos.
According to Dikopoulos, an extensive manhunt was launched by police, and more than 100 jeeps fitting the description of the attacker’s vehicle were stopped and searched.
The breakthrough came when a woman called police saying she had spotted a jeep like the one being sought in the center of Athens.
Police rushed to the scene and set up an ambush, and arrested the driver when he went to pick up his jeep
In addition to the 9mm shells found in the back seat, police also found traces of gunpowder from gunshots in the vehicle, while a search of the suspect’s house turned up the 9mm pistol in a storage space, which was later identified as the weapon used in the attacks.
The suspect has denied all charges, but police say that the evidence against him is overwhelming, while there is also video footage from some of the attack scenes that leave no doubt as to the identity of the assailant.
Dikopoulos also thanked the public for the wealth of information forthcoming over the past days that helped to trace and arrest the suspect.