Child killed in Finland school shooting

Child killed in Finland school shooting

Two wounded by 12-year-old suspect in handgun incident that shocked country

Police officers gather outside the Viertola school in Vantaa, a suburb of Helsinki, after a shooting that claimed the life of one student. (Photo: Lehtikuva/Markku Ulander via Reuters)
Police officers gather outside the Viertola school in Vantaa, a suburb of Helsinki, after a shooting that claimed the life of one student. (Photo: Lehtikuva/Markku Ulander via Reuters)

HELSINKI - One child was killed and two seriously wounded in a shooting at a school outside the Finnish capital on Tuesday, police said, with a 12-year-old fellow pupil suspected of the attack taken into custody.

In the aftermath of the shooting, police cordoned off a building at the Viertola school in the Vantaa suburb of Helsinki.

The arrest was made without further violence in the suburb of Siltamaki, away from the school. Both the suspect and the weapon were now in police custody, police said.

There were no other suspects for now, police said. They provided no details of the identity of the suspect or victims, apart from saying they were all 12-year-old Finns and pupils at the school.

The two survivors were being treated for serious injuries, the Helsinki regional hospital district said in a statement without providing details.

The suspect had admitted the attack in a preliminary interview, police said, and the offences would be investigated as murder and attempted murder.

No one has yet spoken on the suspect’s behalf. They will be put in the care of social services because a child cannot be remanded in custody, police said.

Police said the motive was not clear. The permit for the handgun belonged to a relative of the suspect, they said.

Video circulating on social media but not verified by Reuters showed two police kneeling at the side of the suspected shooter who was lying face-down on a sidewalk.

The Viertola school has around 800 pupils from first to ninth grade and a staff of 90, according to the municipality.

Anja Hietamies, the mother of an 11-year-old pupil, told Reuters she received a message from her daughter after the shooting.

“She said they were in a dark, locked classroom, not allowed to speak on the phone but could send messages,” Hietamies said, adding her daughter was scared.

Interior Minister Mari Rantanen said on X: “The day started in a horrifying way. … I can only imagine the pain and worry that many families are experiencing at the moment. The suspected perpetrator has been caught.”

Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said the shooting was deeply shocking.

“My thoughts are with the victims, their loved ones and the other students and staff,” he said on X.

Previous school shootings in Finland have put a focus on Finland’s gun policy.

In 2007, Pekka-Eric Auvinen shot and killed six students, the school nurse, the principal, and himself using a handgun at Jokela High School, near Helsinki.

A year later, in 2008, Matti Saari, another student, opened fire at a vocational school in Kauhajoki, located in northwest Finland. He killed nine students and one male staff member before turning the gun on himself.

Finland tightened its gun legislation in 2010, introducing an aptitude test for all firearms licence applicants. The minimum age for applicants was also changed to 20 from 18.

There are more than 1.5 million licensed firearms and about 430,000 licence holders in the nation of 5.6 million people, where hunting and target shooting are popular. 

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