Gunman Saari said he was enjoying the situation, eyewitnesses report - police describe killings as slaughter
Cold-blooded murder not hindered by knowing the victims; was video cameraman among them?
A terrifying picture is beginning to emerge of what occurred in the classroom at the vocational school in Kauhajoki on Tuesday morning. Matti Saari shot and killed his classmates one by one in cold blood, while the defenceless students were already cowering on the floor, frightened by the first shots.
Police have heard from some of the students who were in a classroom taking the marketing exam that Saari was apparently also supposed to sit. According to the eyewitnesses, Saari behaved very aggressively and said he was enjoying the situation and the bloodshed.
Three individuals managed to escape from the room.
”He set off with killing in mind, and what we have heard confirms this. He carried out his deed in cold blood and shot and killed classmates that he knew well”, says Chief Inspector Jari Neulaniemi, who is in charge of the investigation. The case is being treated as one of multiple counts of murder.
Neulaniemi describes what happened as a slaughter. A precise account of what went on is in part still missing, among other things because the witnesses have been so traumatised after the events.
It nevertheless appears the shooting was over relatively quickly.
The victims were unable to defend themselves, and there was no scuffle. According to some eyewitness accounts, the male teacher supervising the exam would have tried to prevent Saari from re-entering the classroom.
After the shooting Saari sprayed the classroom floor with fluid that smelled like petrol before lighting it up.
The male student who died in the classroom was apparently a relatively close friend of Saari. This would imply that even the presence of a good friend did little to turn Saari from his decision to start shooting.
Saari knew all the other students as well, for they already had the first year of studies behind them in the same branch of study. Eight of the victims were female students.
Saari had often spent free time with one of his victims. For example, Saari and the male victim were together in February this year, when - after a night out - they were threatened with a starter pistol that looked like a real gun at a grill-kiosk in Kauhajoki.
At that time both men felt that their lives were threatened.
A photograph has also been circulating on the Internet, in which Saari and his victim are seen mugging and making faces together. In the picture Saari jokingly points at his friend’s head with his forefinger.
The individual who apprently filmed the YouTube videos of Saari firing his gun at a shooting range has not been found yet, despite several people having been interviewed by the authorities. It is possible that the cameraman is the same young man who was killed in the shooting.
“Either he is or he isn’t”, chief inspector Neulaniemi says.
“This will come into light during the investigation. Either that or someone else will come forward”, the head of the investigation continues. “Whether or not there was a cameraman and what was his identity are not right now this investigation’s most urgent questions to be answered.”
All signs seem to point to the fact that Saari acted alone. There were no accomplices.
The initial eye-witness evidence also suggests that as the victims were shot at close range and apparently without difficulty, it was the gunshot wounds rather than the effects of the later fire that brought their deaths. Only post mortem evidence will be able to confirm this.
More on this subject:
THURSDAY 15:00: Friend says Saari called him shortly after school shooting
Previously in HS International Edition:
Eleven die in shooting bloodbath (24.9.2008)
Gunman sprayed bullets in classroom and corridor, and threw petrol bombs (24.9.2008)
A seemingly ordinary young man who reported in his online messages that he hated people (24.9.2008)