Ten killed in Finnish school shooting

24th September 2008, Comments 0 comments

Police had met with the suspect on the eve of the killing spree.

Helsinki -- A 22-year-old student killed 10 people Tuesday and wounded at least two more before killing himself in a school massacre in western Finland.

The shootings took place at the trade school in Kauhajoki, about 300 kilometers northwest of Helsinki.

Police said the 22-year-old gunman, whom they identified as Matti Juhani Saari, had a license for a 22-calibre handgun. Officials disclosed later that police had met with the alleged suspect on the eve of the killing spree. After talking with him on Monday evening, they did not seize the weapon.

Matti Lehto, director of Tampere University Hospital, south of Kauhajoki, where the gunman died after turning his gun on himself, told DPA that the man had a gunshot wound to his head. The injury was so bad it was "impossible to operate."

Lehto said a 21-year-old female was being treated at the hospital for a gunshot wound "also to the head."

Interior Minister Anne Holmlund told reporters that police had contacted the man last week and then again on Monday over reports that he had posted a video of a shooting scene on the Internet.

She said the man had received his gun permit in August. A probe into the incident was being launched, she said.

The gunman was seen wearing a ski mask and carrying a bag before the shooting, according to school employees quoted by local media. Police were planning to search his room at a nearby boarding school.

Police and authorities in Kauhajoki, which has less than 15,000 inhabitants, said the victims likely came from several parts of Finland and were shot while sitting for an exam.

Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen and other cabinet members condemned the shooting and expressed their sympathy for the victims, as did President Tarja Halonen, currently attending the UN General Assembly.

Parliament held a moment of silence as hotlines and crisis management teams were mobilized. Flags were to be lowered to half-mast on Wednesday.

The school bloodshed was the worst in the country's history and came less than a year after eight people including six students were killed at a high school in Jokela, 60 kilometers north of Helsinki.

Prior to that November 2007 incident, the 18-year-old student gunman had also posted a video on YouTube.

The incident triggered a series of threats against schools in Finland and its Nordic neighbors, while also sparking calls for tougher legislation on gun ownership. The legislation is still under review.

Online media sites and chat groups published images Tuesday taken from the video sharing site YouTube with a clip of a young man, identified as "Herra S." who said he was 22 years old and from Kauhajoki.

The clip showed him with a Walther P22 pistol at a shooting range. The clip was accompanied by a gloomy poem with the words "and suddenly there was war and the mothers, they screamed." The shooting spree at the school in western Finland added to the growing list of bloodshed committed by students at schools and universities over the past decade. Following is a list of the bloodiest incidents:

-- September 23, 2008: Police report nine killed in a shooting spree by a gunman at a trade school in Kauhajoki, some 300 kilometers north-west of the Finnish capital Helsinki.

-- February 14, 2008: Seven people, including the gunman who shot himself dead, are killed and some 20 wounded when the former sociology student goes on a shooting rampage at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois.

-- November 7, 2007: In the Finnish town of Tuusula, an 18-year-old high school student shoots dead six other students, a school nurse and the director before killing himself.

-- April 16, 2007: In Blacksburg, Virginia, a 23-year-old student from South Korea goes on a rampage, at Virginia Tech University, shooting dead 32 students and teachers. When police arrived on campus, he kills himself.

-- March 21, 2005: On an Indian reservation in Minnesota, a 16-year-old Chippewa youth first shoots dead his grandfather and the grandfather's girlfriend. He then shoots dead five students, a security guard and a female teacher at Red Lake High School before killing himself during a shootout with police.

-- April 26, 2002: In Erfurt, Germany, a 19-year-old high school student who had been ejected from the Gutenberg-Gymnasium school goes on a rampage, killing 12 teachers, two students, a school secretary and a policeman before killing himself.

-- April 20, 1999: Two students armed with assault rifles shoot dead 12 other students and a teacher in a rampage at Columbine High School in the Colorado. The two then shoot themselves.

-- March 13, 1996: In Dunblane, Scotland, a 43-year-old unemployed man in an apparent act of revenge shoots dead 16 first-grade pupils in a primary school, along with their teacher. He then kills himself.


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