Finland | A 12-year-old shoots a child dead in a school, two seriously injured

(Helsinki) 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 a.m. local time (2 a.m. Eastern time) at this school which accommodates 800 students aged 7 to 15, spread over two sites, and the suspect was apprehended around 10 h in Helsinki.

“Today, after 9 a.m., a shooting took place at the Viertola elementary school in Vantaa (…) during which a student of 6e year of school died,” said Ilkka Koskimäki, a police official at a press conference. He was killed instantly.

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

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, said Markku Särkkä, another police official. He will be handed over to social services after his interrogation.

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

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.

A parent, Janne Savolainen, said she was in contact with her daughter while classes were confined.

“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 quiet location.

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

The students were kept in their classrooms all morning and parents quickly flocked to the school in numbers. Shortly after noon, the police began to let parents in to find their children, 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

A crisis unit bringing together staff from the school and the municipality has been set up.

“I can only imagine the pain and worry felt by many families at the moment,” Interior Minister Mari Rantanen reacted 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 (middle and high school) in Jokela, about fifty kilometers north of the capital Helsinki, killing eight people: the director, the nurse and six students. The assailant committed suicide after the attack.

A year later, in September 2008, a shooting took place in a vocational school in Kauhajoki (west), perpetrated by Matti Juhani Saari, 22, 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.


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