Student, 12, opens fire at Finnish school, killing one and wounding two others

2 April 2024, 14:24

Finland School Shooting
Finland School Shooting. Picture: PA

Police said both the suspect and the victims were 12 years old.

A 12-year-old student has opened fire at a secondary school in southern Finland, killing one student and seriously wounding two others, police said.

Heavily armed police cordoned off the lower secondary school — a large educational institution including lower and upper secondary schools with a total of about 800 students — in the city of Vantaa, just outside the capital Helsinki after receiving a call about a shooting incident at 9.08am local time.

Police said both the suspect and the victims were 12 years old.

One of the students had died instantly after being shot, chief of police Ilkka Koskimaki from the Eastern Uusimaa Police Department told a news conference. The other two were seriously wounded, he said.

The weapon used in the shooting was a registered handgun that was licensed to the suspect’s relative, Detective Inspector Kimmo Hyvarinen said.

The suspect was arrested in the Helsinki area less than one hour after the shooting with a handgun in his possession, police said.

He admitted to the shooting in an initial police hearing but there is no immediate word of the motive, police said, adding that the case is being investigated as a murder and two attempted murders.

EU Finland
Prime Minister of Finland Petteri Orpo said that ‘this (shooting) will be carefully reviewed and conclusions will be drawn that this will not happen again’ (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

Finnish President Alexander Stubb and Prime Minister Petteri Orpo offered condolences to the families of the victims in postings on X with both saying they were shocked over the shooting.

Mr Orpo said: “What makes it particularly shocking is the age of the victim and the suspect.

“I can assure you that this (shooting) will be carefully reviewed and conclusions will be drawn that this will not happen again.”

The minimum age of criminal liability in Finland is 15 years, which means the suspect cannot be formally arrested.

A suspect younger than 15 can only be heard by the police, after which they will be handed over to Finland’s child welfare authorities.

Finland School Shooting
Police officers and vehicles at Viertola comprehensive school, in Vantaa, Finland (Markku Ulander/Lehtikuva via AP)

The Interior Ministry said Finland will pay respects to the victims of the school shooting on Wednesday when all state agencies and institutions will lower the national flag to half staff.

Private households are encouraged to join in the commemoration, the ministry said.

In the past decades, Finland has witnessed two major deadly school shootings.

In November 2007, an 18-year-old student armed with a semi-automatic pistol opened fire at the premises of the Jokela high school in Tuusula, southern Finland, killing nine people. He was later found dead with self-inflicted wounds.

Finland School Shooting
The 12-year-old suspect was arrested in the Helsinki area with a handgun in his possession (Markku Ulander/Lehtikuva via AP)

Less than a year later, in September 2008, a 22-year-old student shot and killed 10 people with a semi-automatic pistol at a vocational college in Kauhajoki, south-west Finland, before fatally shooting himself.

In the Nordic nation of 5.6 million, there are more than 1.5 million licensed firearms and about 430,000 licence holders, according to the Finnish Interior Ministry.

Hunting and gun ownership have long traditions in the sparsely-populated northern European country.

Responsibility for granting permits for ordinary firearms rests with local police departments.

Following the school shootings in 2007 and 2008, Finland tightened its gun laws by raising the minimum age for firearms ownership and giving police greater powers to make background checks on individuals applying for a gun licence.

By Press Association

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