John Ausonius

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John Ausonius
John Ausonius.jpg
John Ausonius in the projection booth of the Astoria movie theater in Stockholm, 1986.
Born (1953-07-12) 12 July 1953 (age 60)
Nationality Swedish
Other names Lasermannen ("the Laser Man")
Cykelrånaren ("the Bicycle Bank Robber")
Criminal penalty
Life imprisonment
Criminal status
Incarcerated at Österåker Prison
Motive Defending Sweden from Foreign Hordes
Conviction(s) One count of murder, nine counts of attempted murder, nine counts of robbery

John Wolfgang Alexander Ausonius (born Wolfgang Alexander Zaugg, 12 July 1953), known in the media as Lasermannen ("the Laser Man"), is a Swedish convicted murderer, bank robber, and attempted serial killer.[1][2][3] From August 1991 to January 1992 he shot eleven people in the Stockholm and Uppsala area, most of whom were immigrants, killing one and seriously injuring the others. He first used a rifle equipped with a laser sight (hence, his nickname), and later switched to a revolver. He was arrested in June 1992 and sentenced to life imprisonment in January 1994.[1][2]

History[edit]

Ausonius was born Wolfgang Alexander Zaugg in Lidingö east of Stockholm, Sweden, the son of a Swiss father and a German mother who had both immigrated to Sweden. He grew up in Vällingby, a working class suburb of Stockholm. According to newspaper reports, he was bullied as a child because of his non-Swedish background, which manifested in him being teased for having very black hair and brown eyes. As an adult, he bleached his hair blonde, used blue contact lenses and legally changed his name, first to John Wolfgang Alexander Stannerman, and later to John Wolfgang Alexander Ausonius to disguise his non-Swedish surname. He went to the German school in Stockholm, a private school, but dropped out before graduating. He later completed his secondary school education in an adult education programme and managed to get accepted to the Royal Institute of Technology, but dropped out after a couple of years of unsuccessful study. Ausonius is known to be a movie fan. His favourite movies were the Monty Python films, especially Life of Brian.

Following the Olof Palme assassination in 1986, Ausonius, then named John Stannerman, was one of the police’s initial suspects for the murder. However, Stannerman could not be linked to the murder since he was in prison, serving a multiple-count assault sentence, the night Palme was shot. In prison he also got to know the Ustasa terrorist Miro Baresic, who was sentenced to life in Sweden after he and his friend shot a Yugoslavian ambassador in Stockholm to death. Ausonius looked up to Baresic and had him tell everything about his life of war and terrorism.

As an adult, he espoused hatred for Communists, Social Democrats, and immigrants, and dreamed about getting rich.[citation needed] At the time he was working a low-paying job as a taxi driver, but started trading in stocks and bonds. He had a talent for the market and quickly earned a fairly large fortune. He adopted the yuppie lifestyle, and by the late 1980s he not only had a luxurious apartment, a Japanese sports car (a Toyota Supra — he despised the Porsche that many other yuppies drove at that time), but also a mobile phone, which before the 90's was a luxury item usually associated with jet-set lifestyle. However, poorly chosen investments depleted his fortune, and when he became addicted to gambling on a trip to Germany, he found himself in dire economic circumstances. He turned to robbing banks to maintain his lifestyle.[4] He performed more than eighteen robberies, all in almost identical fashion.

Ausonius, who had become a Swedish citizen in 1979, had a strong hatred for immigrants and foreigners, and so started to look for immigrant criminals to kill. Eventually he got tired of this and decided to simply kill an immigrant, any immigrant, which he hoped would scare them all out of the country.[4]

Victims
  • On 3 August 1991, the Laser Man shot his first person. The victim was David Gebremariam, a 21-year-old immigrant to Sweden from Eritrea, whom Ausonius shot in the back. The victim, however, survived.[3] Two of the victim's friends said they saw a circle of red light on his body before they heard the shot.
  • On the evening of 21 October 1991, outside the Stockholm University, Shahram Khosravi, a 25-year-old student of Iranian origin, was shot in the face but survived.[3]
  • On the night of 27 October 1991, Dimitrios Karamalegos, a homeless man of Greek origin was shot twice in the stomach.[3] The victim saw a bright red light, heard the shots but managed to run away. Although wounded, he survived.
  • In the middle of the day of 1 November 1991, Ausonius walked into a restaurant kitchen in Stockholm where he had seen an immigrant and shot him once in the head and several times in the stomach. The victim, Heberson Vieira Da Costa, a musician from Brazil,[3] saw a red light before he was shot, and got a good look at his assailant. The victim survived, seriously wounded, but was able to give a description of the Laser Man to the police.
  • Ausonius continued his shootings and, on 8 November 1991, he mortally wounded Jimmy Ranjbar, another Iranian student, who died the next day.[3]

Ausonius then went to Las Vegas to gamble and visit the Grand Canyon. The Laser Man disappeared for a few months, but he would return.

  • On 22 January 1992, Ausonius went to Uppsala, where he walked up to a couple, and shot the man in the head. The victim, Erik Bongcam-Rudloff, was a Ph.D. student in medical sciences.[3] He survived and is now a scientist representing Sweden in several international scientific networks.
  • 23 January 1992, back in Stockholm, Ausonius shot Charles Dhlakama, a black bus driver, originally from Zimbabwe, in the middle of the day. The victim was shot in the chest but survived.[3] That evening, Ausonius walked into a Somali club in central Stockholm and shot two men, both of whom also survived.[3]
  • On the night of 28 January 1992, Ausonius walked up to a kiosk where Isa Aybar, an immigrant of Turkish origin, was working. Ausonius shot him four times in the head and arm, and walked away. Aybar was seriously wounded but managed to call the police and survived.[3]
  • On 30 January 1992 Ausonius shot Hasan Zatara in the head, a Palestinian store owner, in Hägerstensåsen, paralyzing but not killing him. His son Imad Zatara is a footballer.

Ausonius is also the main suspect for murdering a Jewish woman on 23 February 1992, in Frankfurt, Germany.[citation needed] But the investigation by German police has been dropped and Ausonius will probably never be linked to this crime.

Having been in the army between 1981–1982, Ausonius knew how to use a weapon. However, his guns were of poor quality, very likely because Ausonius had modified them himself. He sawed off both the barrel and the stock of his first rifle to make it shorter, and he fitted the Smith & Wesson revolver with a silencer. This modification may have been the key to his failures in killing most of his victims as it deviated the bullet's trajectory and consequently caused him to miss his victims. It was amateurishly done and damaged the weapon's performance.[3]

The police started a massive manhunt (second in size only to the hunt for Olof Palme's killer) and Ausonius was arrested during a bank robbery on 12 June 1992.[1] He later assaulted his own lawyer in court and spent the rest of his trial in handcuffs. He was convicted of murder and robbery, but could not be linked to all of the shootings (although he confessed to all of them in 2000).[4] He was sentenced to life imprisonment and was later incarcerated at the Kumla Prison. In June of 2012 he was transferred to the Österåker Prison, where he currently continues to serve his sentence.[5]

Ausonius has applied to have his life sentence commuted to a fixed term three times, in 2008, 2010 and 2012. The court has rejected his application on all occasions. The last rejection was delivered by the Örebro District Court on 2 November 2012.[6]

Media[edit]

The journalist Gellert Tamas wrote a book about the case, Lasermannen - en berättelse om Sverige (2002), which became a bestseller. The book, which is very detailed, was published without consulting the victims first.[citation needed] The author's personal opinions not only deal with Ausonius and his life story, but also with Sweden in general, speculating that his actions were in part explained by a surge of xenophobic sentiments in the country in the early 1990s, including the success of the Ny Demokrati right-wing party in the election.

In 2005, the book was adapted into a play, and the same year SVT produced a three-part TV miniseries, which premiered on 23 November. Ausonius was played by David Dencik.

Engagement[edit]

In late April 2006, the daily Aftonbladet revealed that John Ausonius had become engaged to an anonymous 23 year old woman, who had fallen in love with him after having seen a recent television miniseries.[7] According to the paper, a friend of the woman said the couple were planning to move abroad after Ausonius' putative release from prison by 2031. The couple are now no longer together.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Arvidsson, Ulf. "Lasermannen". Nationalencyklopedin (in Swedish). Retrieved 9 July 2010.  (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b Vidlund, Susanna; Österberg, Tobias (30 April 2008). "Fortsatt livstid för "Lasermannen"". Aftonbladet (in Swedish). Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå. Retrieved 9 July 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Johansson, Anders (23 November 2005). "Min avsikt var ett mord". Aftonbladet (in Swedish). Retrieved 9 July 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c Gustafsson, Thomas (5 April 2001). "Jag har levt i en lögn". Aftonbladet (in Swedish). Retrieved 9 August 2010. 
  5. ^ Paulsson, Erik (3 January 2013). "Lasermannen bloggar inifrån fängelset". Expressen (in Swedish). Retrieved 3 January 2013. 
  6. ^ "Ausonius ansökan avslås". Dagens Nyheter (in Swedish). 2 November 2012. Retrieved 3 January 2013. 
  7. ^ Johansson, Anders (29 April 2006). "Såg tv-serien och blev kär". Aftonbladet (in Swedish). Retrieved 28 September 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

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