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Twelve-year-old shoots and kills child at school in Finland

Photo: Markku Ulander Lehtikuva Agence France-Presse Police said they were dispatched to the scene shortly after 9:00 a.m. local time at the school, which accommodates 800 students aged 7 to 15, and the suspect was apprehended around 10:00 a.m. in Helsinki.

Alessandro Rampazzo – Agence France-Presse and Anna Korkman – Agence France-Presse in Helsinki

April 2, 2024

  • Europe

A twelve-year-old opened fire and killed a child at his school in Vantaa, north of the Finnish capital, Helsinki, seriously injuring two other children before being arrested.

Police announced that they were dispatched to the scene shortly after 9:00 a.m. local time (2:00 a.m. in Quebec) at this school which accommodates 800 students aged 7 to 15, spread over two sites, and the suspect was apprehended around 10:00 a.m. in Helsinki.

“Today, after 9 a.m., a shooting took place at Viertola Elementary School in Vantaa […] during which a 6th grade student of the school died,” said said Ilkka Koskimäki, a police official at a press conference. He was killed instantly.

“Two children were also seriously injured,” he added.

Flags on all public buildings and institutions will be flown at half-mast on Wednesday at 8 a.m. to mark the Finns' mourning, according to a statement from the Ministry of the Interior.

The arrest of the young suspect, who attended the same school, “took place peacefully” and he was in possession of a firearm, according to the police.

The weapon belongs to a relative of the perpetrator and an investigation was opened for murder and attempted murder.

This young person will not be incarcerated because he is under 15 years old and therefore cannot be found criminally responsible, said Markku Särkkä, another police official. He will be handed over to social services after his interrogation, which took place today.

“Police are investigating the motive and reasons behind this incident,” the police said on their website in the afternoon, quoting Mr. Särkkä.

Confined children

A video, broadcast by the daily Iltalehti and presented as the arrest of the suspect, shows two police officers holding a person lying on the ground to the ground. belly.

A witness told the daily that the shots echoed in the courtyard.

“At first, I didn’t understand that it was a weapon. Then there was a terrible scream and children ran into the yard,” he said.

One parent, Janne Savolainen, said she was in contact with her daughter while students were confined to their classroom.

“She was able to send me WhatsApp messages, saying that they were sitting on the floor and waiting for instructions from the teachers,” he told AFP, expressing his “ “huge surprise” that such a tragedy took place in this usually calm place.

A child at school said he and his classmates had just left their class for sports when teachers yelled at them to go inside and sit on the floor.

The students were kept in their classroom all morning before being able to find their parents at midday, according to an AFP correspondent on site.

Parents assured journalists that the shootings took place in a classroom, but the police did not want to give details on the circumstances of the tragedy.

Precedents in the 2000s

“I can only imagine the pain and worry many families are feeling right now,” Interior Minister Mari Rantanen responded on X.

Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said he was “deeply shocked” by the event, adding that his thoughts were with the victims, their parents, other students and teachers.

The Nordic country experienced two similar tragedies in the early 2000s.

In November 2007, an 18-year-old man opened fire in a school in Jokela, about fifty kilometers north of the capital Helsinki, killing eight people: the principal, the nurse and six students. The attacker committed suicide after the attack.

A year later, in September 2008, a shooting took place at a vocational school in Kauhajoki (west), carried out by 22-year-old Matti Juhani Saari, killing ten people. He also committed suicide shortly after.

Since then, hundreds of schools have been threatened with similar acts, according to the Journal of Scandinavian Studies in Criminology and Crime Prevention, which points to mental health problems as the main reason behind this scourge.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116