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One killed, two injured by 12-year-old Finnish school shooter

Police officers and family members outside the Viertola school on Tuesday
Police officers and family members outside the Viertola school on Tuesday - Copyright AFP -
Police officers and family members outside the Viertola school on Tuesday - Copyright AFP -
Anna KORKMAN

A 12-year-old opened fire Tuesday at a school north of the Finnish capital Helsinki, killing a fellow student and seriously injuring two others before being taken into custody, police said.

The Viertola school in Vantaa, Finland’s fourth-largest city, has around 800 pupils and 90 staff. Children in grades one to nine, or aged seven to 15, attend the school.  

“Today, after 9:00 am, a shooting incident took place at a school… in which a sixth grader, a student of the school, died,” Ilkka Koskimaki, chief of the Eastern Uusimaa police department, told a press conference, adding that two others were “seriously injured”.

Police had earlier said that both the suspect and the injured were 12 years old. They have opened an investigation into murder and attempted murder.

A witness told the Iltalehti newspaper that shots had echoed across the schoolyard.

“At first I didn’t understand it was a weapon. Then a terrible scream could be heard and children ran across the yard,” the witness said.

Images from the scene showed a large number of police officers at the school.

In an update, police said the suspect, who was carrying a gun, had been arrested in Helsinki in a “calm manner”.

Iltalehti published a video filmed from a passing car showing two police officers pinning down a child by the side of a road in a residential area. 

Parents of the students told journalists the shooting took place in a classroom.

– ‘Shocking’ day –

Police had urged the public to stay away from the area and remain indoors.

“Do not open the door to strangers,” they added in a statement. 

Shortly after noon, police had begun letting parents who were waiting outside the school inside to see their children, according to an AFP reporter at the scene.

Finnish Interior Minister Mari Rantanen acknowledged the day had started in a “shocking way”.

“I can only imagine the pain and worry that many families are experiencing at the moment,” she posted on X.

Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said he was “deeply shocked” and his thoughts were with the victims, their relatives and the other students and staff.

Finland witnessed two gruesome school shootings in the early 2000s.

In November 2007, an 18-year-old man opened fire at a secondary school in Jokela, around 50 kilometres (30 miles) north of Helsinki, killing the headmaster and a nurse along with six students before turning the gun on himself.

A year later, in September 2008, 22-year-old Matti Juhani Saari killed 11 people at a vocational school in the western town of Kauhajoki. 

Since then, hundreds of schools have received shooting threats, according to an article published in the Journal of Scandinavian Studies in Criminology and Crime Prevention.

The article pointed to mental health problems as the main reason behind the increase.

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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