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A.K.A.: "The Laser Man"
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Shot eleven people, all of whom were immigrants
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: November 8, 1991
Date of arrest: June 12, 1992
Date of birth: July 12, 1953
Victim profile: Jimmy Ranjbar (Iranian student)
Method of murder: Shooting (rifle equipped with a laser sight and a revolver)
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Status: Sentenced to life in prison

John Ausonius (born Wolfgang Alexander Zaugg on July 12, 1953), also known in the media as Lasermannen ("the Laser Man") is a Swedish convicted murderer, bank robber, and attempted serial killer.

From August 1991 to February 1992 he shot eleven people, all of whom were immigrants, and killed one in the Stockholm and Uppsala area. 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 in prison.


Wolfgang Zaugg grew up in Vällingby, a working class suburb to Stockholm. As a child of German and Swiss immigrants, he was bullied in his youth because of his black hair and dark complexion. As an adult, he dyed his hair blonde and legally changed his name, first to John (Wolfgang Alexander) Stannerman, and later to John Ausonius to disguise his non-Swedish last name.

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.

As an adult, he espoused right wing ideas — among them hatred for Communists, Social Democrats, and immigrants — and dreamed about getting rich. At the time he was working a low-paying job as a taxi-driver, but started trading in stocks and bonds. He developed a talent for playing the market and quickly gathered a somewhat large fortune.

He adopted the yuppie life-style, and by the late 80's he not only had a luxurious apartment, a japanese sportscar (a Toyota Supra, he despised the Porsche that every other Yuppie drove at that time) , but he also had a mobile phone, something not everyone had.

However, some poorly chosen investments unraveled his fortune, and when he fell into a gambling-addiction on a trip to Germany he found himself in dire economic circumstances. At this time he turned to robbing banks for money, in order to maintain his yuppie lifestyle. He performed more than 18 robberies, all performed in an almost identical fashion.

Ausonius, who himself 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 be enough to scare them all out of the country. He also felt that killing immigrants would turn the attention of the Swedish police away from his career as a bankrobber.

On August 2, 1991, the Laser Man shot his first victim. He shot a young black man, 21 years old, an immigrant to Sweden from Eritrea, in the back side; his victim survived, however. The victims two friends said they saw a red light circle on his body before they heard the shot.

  • On the evening of October 21, 1991, outside the Stockholm University, Shahram Khosravi, a 25-year-old student of Iranian origin, was shot in the back but survived.

  • On the night of October 27, 1991, a homeless man of Greek origin was shot with two shots to the stomach. 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 November 1, 1991, Ausonius walked into the kitchen of a restaurant in Stockholm were he had seen an immigrant and shot him once in the head and several times in the stomach. The victim, a musician from Brazil, 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 the shootings and, on November 8, he fatally injured Jimmy Ranjbar, another Iranian student, who died the next day.

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

  • On January 22, 1992, Ausonius went to Uppsala, where he walked up to a couple, and shot the man in the head. The victim, Erik Bongcam-Rudloff, born in Chile, then a Ph.D. student in medical sciences, survived. He is now a scientist representing Sweden in several international scientific networks.

  • January 23, 1992, back in Stockholm, in the middle of the day, Ausonius shot a black bus driver, originally from Zimbabwe. The victim was shot in the chest but survived. The same day, in the evening, Ausonius walked into a Somalian club in central Stockholm and shot two black men, who also survived.

  • On the night of January 28, 1992, Ausonius walked up to a kiosk where a man named 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.

  • On January 30, 1992 Ausonius shot his last victim in the head, paralyzing but not killing him.

Having served in the army, Ausonius knew how to use a weapon. However, his guns were of poor quality, very likely because Ausonius had tried to modify them by himself. The first rifle he sawed off both the barrel and the stock to make it shorter, and he modified the Smith & Wesson revolver with a silencer. This last modification may have been the key to his failures with killing most victims. Not only was it an amateurish modification that warped the weapons performance, it was also completely unnecessary since it is impossible to silence a revolver.

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 June 12, 1992. 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). He was sentenced to life in prison, and is currently serving it in Kumla prison.

Ausonius has been diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder.


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. The book not only deals with Ausonius and his life story, but also with Sweden in general, making the case that his actions were in part explained by a surge of racism 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 November 23. Ausonius was played by David Dencik.


In late April 2006, the daily Aftonbladet revealed that John Ausonius had gotten engaged with an anonymous 23 year old woman, who had fallen in love with him after having seen the recent TV miniseries. According to the paper, a friend of the woman says the couple are planning to move abroad after Ausonius' future release from prison.


  • Following the assassination of Olof Palme 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 because he was in prison the night Palme was shot.

  • Ausonius is also the main suspect for murdering a Jewish woman on February 23, 1992, in Frankfurt, Germany.

  • Ausonius' favorite movie was Death Wish, about a New Yorker (played by Charles Bronson) who gets tired of all the crime in the city and goes out in the streets to shoot criminals, mostly blacks and latinos.

  • Ausonius' reign of terror indirectly led to what many consider to be one of the most embarrassing moments in Swedish politics. During a televised debate on the subject of racism held in Rinkeby, a suburb in Stockholm with a high concentration of immigrants, Birgit Friggebo (then minister of culture) stood up and tried to get the audience to sing "We Shall Overcome" in an attempt to avoid the upset and angry crowd. The audience booed her and prime minister Carl Bildt so they had to leave.


John Ausonius


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