5 killed, including gunman, in Swiss family drama

A police ribbon is seen in front of a house in Wuerenlingen, Switzerland on May 10, 2015. Several people were killed in a shooting late on Saturday in a town in the Swiss canton of Aargau, local police said.

GENEVA - A Swiss man killed three in-laws and a neighbour in a town near Zurich before turning his gun on himself, police said Sunday, sending shockwaves through the normally tranquil nation.

Local police swiftly ruled out a terrorist attack, characterising the incident as a "tragic relational drama".

The drama was played out on Saturday evening in the town of Wuerenlingen, near Zurich, was among the dead, local police spokesman Michael Leutpold told a news conference.

All the victims and the gunman were Swiss.

Police said the attacker was 36-year-old but did not reveal his identity.He was a father of three but no longer living with his family. He did not have a gun licence and did not fire with a military weapon, the police spokesman said.

The gunman first went to a house in a residential area and fired on three people, killing a 58-year-old man, his 57-year-old wife and a 32-year-old man. The older couple were his parents-in-law and the younger man his brother-in-law, police said.

He then went to another house and shot dead a 46-year-old male neighbour, before turning the gun on himself.

The shooter had a record of violence and lived apart from his family in the nearby canton of Schwytz. In 2007, he was investigated for causing bodily harm and in 2012 he was probed after making verbal threats.

Police had searched his home on April 2 this year but no firearms were found. Saturday's attack came after the man's wife and children left the family home and were housed in a shelter.

"The mother and her children are safe," said local police official Markus Gisin. He said the investigation into the shooting was made difficult by the fact that there "are several crime scenes."

Neighbours had alerted police after hearing gunshots after 11:00 pm (2100 GMT) Saturday.

The latest shooting, which follows a similar incident last November, sent shockwaves through the tiny Alpine nation.

"This is not possible, we are after all the richest and happiest country in the world," said the German-language Swiss newspaper Blick. In a report published late last month, Switzerland was found to have the world's happiest people, sparking a wave of national pride and media fervour with front-page headlines.

Some online commentators attributed the increasing rise in shootings to the proliferation of guns in Switzerland. According to unconfirmed estimates, there are up to 4.5 million firearms in circulation in the country.

It is one of the world's top countries in terms of the circulation of firearms, after the United States, Yemen and Serbia.