Gunman and eight others die in school shooting spree
Nation tries to come to grips with senseless tragedy
A deep sense of sorrow and shock descended over Finland on Wednesday after eight pupils and staff died in a shooting spree at the Jokela school in the municipality of Tuusula north of Helsinki.
The shooting is the most serious crime of violence ever committed in a Finnish school.
The gunman, identified as 18-year-old Pekka-Eric Auvinen, a student at the upper secondary school, began shooting indiscriminately before noon on Wednesday. He shot himself at the end of the massacre, and died of his injuries in hospital on Wednesday evening without ever regaining consciousness.
The victims included five male students, one female student, the school's head teacher, and the school nurse. According to press reports, one of the victims was a 25-year-old single mother of two children aged three and five.
Police believe that all of the victims, except the head teacher, were chosen at random.
Twelve people were injured in the melee. All of the injured were sent home after being treated at hospital.
The weapon used in the shooting was a 22 calibre handgun. On his web site, Auvinen said that he owned a Sig Sauer Mosquito pistol, and police say that he was a member of a well-known shooting club.
The gunman never held any hostages, and he had no criminal record.
Police first received the alarm at 11:44 Wednesday morning. The first police units arrived at the scene ten minutes later, and the situation was described as chaotic, with students escaping the building through the windows.
Officer Timo Leppälä said that the police immediately established contact with Auvinen, who fired one shot at the police.
A total of 100 police came to the scene, in addition to a medical unit and several ambulances. No shots were ever fired by the police.
Only one of those who were injured had a gunshot wound. Many of the students used chairs to break windows in order to get out of the building, and cut themselves on broken glass.
Previously in HS International Edition:
BREAKING NEWS:Death toll in school shooting reaches nine (7.11.2007)