Finland school shooting: 12-year-old opens fire, killing student, wounding 2

Click to play video: 'Finland school shooting leaves 1 child dead, 2 injured'
Finland school shooting leaves 1 child dead, 2 injured
WATCH: One child was killed and two were seriously wounded in a shooting at a school outside Helsinki on Tuesday. Police said the suspect had been arrested and that two children have been taken to a hospital in the country's capital and were in serious condition. – Apr 2, 2024

A 12-year-old student is in custody after opening fire at a school in Finland.

One student died in the shooting and two others were seriously injured, Finnish police wrote in a statement. All of the victims were also 12 years old.

The shooting occurred at the Viertola school in Vantaa, a city just outside the capital of Helsinki. About 800 students are enrolled at the elementary school, which offers classes from Grade 1 to Grade 9.

Police were called to the school at 9:08 a.m. following reports of shots fired. By the time police arrived, the suspect had already fled.

At around 10 a.m., police caught the child a short distance away from the school in Siltamäki, a neighbourhood in the northern part of Helsinki.

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Heavily armed Finnish police at the scene of a shooting at the Viertola school on Tuesday. Markku Ulander/AFP via Getty Images

Police state that the student was still in possession of a firearm but was arrested “peacefully.”

The 12-year-old confessed to the shooting in a preliminary interview with police.

During a press conference, Chief of Police Ilkka Koskimäki said that the firearm used in the shooting was a gun registered to the suspect’s relative, the Associated Press reports.

Koskimäki added that a 12-year-old victim died instantly after being shot during the attack.

Two survivors are being treated for serious injuries, the Helsinki regional hospital district said, according to Reuters.

“The day started in a shocking way,” Interior Minister Mari Rantanen wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “There has been a shooting incident at Viertola school in Vantaa. I can only imagine the pain and worry many families are experiencing right now. The suspected perpetrator has been caught.”

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Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo also called the shooting “deeply shocking.”

“My thoughts are with the victims, their loved ones and the other students and staff of Viertola school. We are following the situation closely and are waiting for updated information from the authorities.”

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The minimum age of criminal liability in Finland is 15 years, which means the 12-year-old in this case cannot be formally arrested, AP reports. Suspects under 15 can only be heard by police, after which they are handed over to Finland’s child welfare authorities.

School shootings are rare in Finland, despite the country having a high rate of gun ownership.

For a population of about 5.6 million, there are more than 1.5 million licensed firearms in Finland, owned by around 430,000 licence holders. Hunting and target shooting are popular traditions in the country.

Finland tightened its gun laws, raising the minimum age of gun ownership, after the country was hit with two school shootings in less than a year in the mid-2000s.

In November 2007, 18-year-old student Pekka-Eric Auvinen opened fire at the Jokela high school in Tuusula, southern Finland, killing six students, the school nurse and the principal, before turning the gun on himself.

In September 2008, 22-year-old student Matti Saari shot and killed 10 people at a vocational school in Kauhajoki, located in northwest Finland, before shooting himself.

Before these two incidents, Finland had only experienced one other school shooting.

In 1989, a 14-year-old student shot and killed two of this classmates using his father’s pistol. He later claimed to be a victim of bullying. Because he was under 15, he was never criminally charged for the shooting, according to Finland’s public broadcaster YLE.


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