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Finland school shooting by 12-year-old leaves 1 student dead and wounds 2 others, all also 12, police say

A 12-year-old student opened fire at a lower secondary school in southern Finland Tuesday morning, killing one fellow student and seriously wounding two others, police said. All three victims were also 12-years-old.

The suspect was later arrested in the Helsinki area with a handgun in his possession, police added.

Heavily armed police cordoned off the school, which has some 800 students, in the city of Vantaa, just outside the capital, Helsinki, after receiving a call about a shooting incident at 9:08 a.m.

FINLAND-SHOOTING-SCHOOL
Finnish police at a school where where a 12-year-old student allegedly opened fire and wounded three other pupils, also 12-year-olds, in Vantaa, outside the Finnish capital Helsinki, on April 2, 2024. MARKKU ULANDER / Lehtikuva / AFP via Getty Images

"The immediate danger is over," the Viertola school's principal, Sari Laasila, told Reuters.

"The day started in a horrifying way. There has been a shooting incident at the Viertola school in Vantaa. I can only imagine the pain and worry that many families are experiencing at the moment. The suspected perpetrator has been caught," Interior Minister Mari Rantanen said on X.

Also on X, Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo called the shooting "deeply shocking."

FINLAND-SHOOTING-SCHOOL
Finnish police officers talk to family members of pupils at the Viertola primary school where a pupil, 12, allegedly opened fire wounded three other 12-year-olds on April 2, 2024 in Vantaa, outside the Finnish capital Helsinki. MARKKU ULANDER / Lehtikuva/ AFP via Getty Images

The motive for the shooting wasn't initially clear.

Reuters said the school has students from first through ninth grade, according to the local municipality.

Prior school shootings in Finland

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

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

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, in southwestern 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 license 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 license. 

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