Gunman sprayed bullets in classroom and corridor, and threw petrol bombs
A timeline of the events of Tuesday 23.9.2008
The principal of the Kauhajoki Vocational College Tapio Varmola began an info session for first-year business and catering students in an auditorium on the top floor of the building students.
Varmola began a similar address to college staff-members, discussing the new academic year.
2nd year students began a marketing exam in a ground-floor classroom. There were around 20 students present and an invigilator.
A man with his face disguised under a ski-mask began shooting in the classroom in the middle of the exam. He threw a petrol-filled bottle-bomb into the classroom, which caught fire immediately. The Principal heard shouts from upstairs.
The emergency response centre received the first call about a shooting incident at the school. Several other calls followed.
Students escaped classrooms via the doors or by jumping out of windows, but many found themselves as it were trapped by the river that adjoins the college campus site. Students were later shepherded to another college nearby. Minor injuries and cuts and bruises to some of those escaping.
The gunman runs down a corridor and throws another lighted petrol bomb into a language lab classroom, that burns partly before the fire extinguishes itself. He shoots out all the windows over the doors leading off the long corridor that extends through the building. He fires in the direction of janitor Jukka Forsberg, who escapes, ducking and weaving to avoid the shots.
The first police party - two officers in a police van - arrives on the scene. They are in the yard of the college when the gunman fires towards them from the main doorway. The police take cover and radio for backup.
Further police units arrive at the college and enter the building. They make an assault on the main corridor, but are hindred by the thick smoke emanating from the fires.
Minister for Health and Services Paula Risikko (National Coalition Party), who is also the Deputy Principal of the Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences (of which the Kauhajoki unit is a part), is made aware of the ongoing situation. A crisis response group begins work.
The gunman is found with gunshot wounds to the head in a corridor. He is taken to the ICU at Tampere University Hospital. eight victims are found in the badly-burned classroom, and a ninth in the corridor.
Police report that nine people have died in the shooting and several have been wounded or injured in trying to make their escape.
The government expresses its condolences over the events in Kauhajoki.
Police confirm that the suspected gunman is 22-year-old Matti Juhani Saari. After this, police surround and cordon off his student apartment in a small block in the centre of Kauhajoki. The apartment reveals a note connected with the actions of the morning and a large number of empty boxes of bullets for his pistol.
Saari, who has shot himself in the head after the killings, dies in Tampere University Hospital. A young woman with a gunshot wound to the head remains in intensive care. She was later operated on overnight and is reported to be in a stable condition. The woman is the only victim of the incident to require hospital care.
A police crime scene unit is able to begin its work at the school. A special forensics team is called into begin the process of identifying the bodies of the victims.
It is confirmed that eleven people, including the gunman, have been killed in the incident. This is one more than earlier figures have indicated. In the very early stages, police had reported three deaths. Whether this number is of significance is unclear. It may be that some of the bodies were not reachable or visible in the early stages.
The victims died as a consequence of being shot and from the effects of the fire and smoke. Presumably post mortem examinations will determine the actual cause of death in each case. The badly-burned bodies were still being identified overnight.
On Wednesday morning, it was reported that the majority of those killed were women. Initial police accounts on Wednesday suggest that two of the dead were male (not including the gunman himself) and the remainder female.
According to the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE), the dead were student colleagues of the gunman or were at least on the same second-year course as Matti Juhani Saari.
The Finnish News Agency STT reports that those killed were locals from Kauhajoki and the immediate surrounding area.
It has still not been possible formally to identify all the bodies.
The preliminary identification process has been based on a tally of persons known to be present in the building at the time and with whom it has not been possible to make contact thereafter.
These ten people have not been contacted either by relatives or police.
Relatives of the unidentified victims have provisionally been told of their loss.
Some of the bodies are so badly burned that it is difficult to determine their gender without furether forensic examination.
The final process of identification may take several days and will probably involve DNA matching.
The bodies were taken from Kauhajoki to the capital Helsinki overnight.
Previously in HS International Edition:
School shooting in Kauhajoki - Eleven dead, many injured (23.9.2008)