Jokela students turn to each other for solace
Early Thursday morning young people in Jokela who were trying to come to terms with the tragedy that struck their school and their community on the previous day flocked to the area near the school. No classes were being held as police continue their investigations. Many lit candles for the victims at the police cordon around the building.
The community centre next to the school compound hs turned into an unofficial meeting place for the young people, although the actual crisis centre is the nearby church.
The kids and the staff at the community centre mourn all of the victims and commiserate with the lot of the parents of the killer. One of the victims, a single mother who had gone back to school, left two orphaned children.
Anger toward the shooter is palpable. "He should have just shot himself, and not innocent people", said one student.
Elvi Hiltunen, the attendant at the community centre, makes sure that the schoolchildren fit in amongst the regular users of the premises - pensioners and family day care groups.
The boys who were killed were frequent visitors at the community centre.
"The killer came from the toilet, and he had Ari. He held his gun like this", a blonde-haired girl indicates, pointing her arm toward youth counsellor Jonna Jajava. "Then he started to shoot."
The girl says that Ari had helped others before the shooter caught up with him.
A youth counsellor sighs at the burden carried by the eyewitness. "It will take long to recover from something like this."
The girl who described the shocking death of Ari had crouched behind a corner where the shooter could not see her.
In spite of her shock, she took her driver's test the following morning and got a driving licence.
At six in the evening a memorial service was held at the Jokela Church. It was restricted to the next of kin of the victims and people at the school.
Jokela regional pastor Petri Kauhanen says that the text of the service is from the Gospel According to St. Mark in the new testament: "Suffer the children to come unto me".
Walking to the church is the shooter's classmate, 18-year-old Mikko Häkkinen, who says that he has spent the day with his friends in cafes. "We have tried to internalise what has happened."
As the evening grew dark, the edge of the pond next to the Jokela school centre filled with rows of candles. Some of had cards attached with messages of mourning. "You went away, I was left with longing".