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Friday, April 19, 2024  
09 Shawwal 1445  

Finland school shooting: 12-year-old suspect held after one child killed, two wounded

Education Minister Anna-Maja Henriksson broke into tears while speaking at a press conference hours after the attack
Police officers talk to family members of pupils at the Viertola comprehensive school in Vantaa, Finland, on April 2, 2024. Three minors were injured in a shooting at the school on Tuesday morning. A suspect, also a minor, has been apprehended. Reuters
Police officers talk to family members of pupils at the Viertola comprehensive school in Vantaa, Finland, on April 2, 2024. Three minors were injured in a shooting at the school on Tuesday morning. A suspect, also a minor, has been apprehended. Reuters

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.

Education Minister Anna-Maja Henriksson broke into tears while speaking at a press conference hours after the attack.

“One 12-year-old child will never again return home from school,” she said.

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 handgun’s permit belonged to a relative of the suspect, they said.

Video circulating on social media and unverified 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.

It was too early to draw any policy conclusions from Tuesday’s incident, Rantanen told a press conference.

There are more than 1.5 million licenced 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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