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Local clergy help Jokela residents cope with shooting aftermath

Police drawing up time line of killer's movements

Local clergy help Jokela residents cope with shooting aftermath
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"Recent days have been truly hard. We have worked from morning to evening", says assistant vicar Petri Kauhanen and pastor Eliisa Vinberg at the Jokela Church. It is Sunday morning, and about half an hour remains to the beginning of the service at the Lutheran church.
      From Wednesday morning on, Kauhanen and Vinberg have been working full time as grief counsellors.
      Immediately after the shooting started at the Jokela School on Wednesday, a round-the-clock crisis centre was set up in the church, which is about 200 metres from the school.
      Parish workers, together with Finnish Red Cross workers, have offered sympathetic ears and comfort to the relatives and acquaintances of those who died in the shooting.
      "Everyone here has lost someone he or she knows", Kauhanen says. Some years back his own daughter had been a classmate of two of the students who were killed.
      "All emotions are in flux: grief, anger, thoughts of forgiveness."
"In Tuusula the congregation is a force that strongly ties people together", says pastor Eliisa Vinberg.
      It is easy to see this when the members arrive at the Sunday service. The church has been declared off limits for cameras, and people can let their grief come out.
      One father who lost a child on Wednesday appears to be overwhelmed by his grief, but he gets support from many embraces and comforting words that the other members of the congregation have to offer.
in her sermon, Eliisa Vinberg speaks about the importance of the family and the community. In a time of distress, it is important to give time to those who are close.
      "The congregation of Christ is one family."
      About 70 people attend a special "family mass" on Sunday. There are some empty seats, but more people show up at the church than on a typical Sunday.
      Immediately after the event Kauhanen and Vinberg return to the church sanctuary to talk with family members who are overwhelmed by their feelings of loss.
      "At this phase our job is to listen and to offer hope", Kauhanen says.
      "The actual grief phase begins only later. Now people are still in the shock phase."
The shock is also felt by the clergy who are offering their help.
      "The first nights I slept well, but last night I had nightmares", Eliisa Vinberg says.
      "This work is certainly giving of one's self, which sometimes seems to suck one dry."
      Kauhanen feels that the crisis work following the tragedy has strengthened the sense of community in Jokela.
Meanwhile, police investigating the shootings are working to establish a time line of the movements of the gunman Pekka-Eric Auvinen.
      The aim is to ascertain second-by-second, if possible, where he was at different stages of the shooting spree.
      Tero Haapala of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) says that the picture is almost complete, with the exception of a few gaps.
The time line is based on accounts of dozens of witnesses taken by police during the weekend. Some had seen Auvinen for only a few seconds. The movements of the victims are also included in the time line.
      Witnesses have also said that in addition to the shooting, Auvinen shouted orders at some of the students, proclaimed revolution, and urged the students to destroy school property. This suggests that he did not consider all of the other pupils to be his opponents.
      He also pointed his gun at some people whom he did not shoot.
      Some of the witnesses saw shootings take place at a distance of just a few metres.
      The examination of Auvinen's computer has not brought any new information of the events.
Minister of Justice Tuija Brax (Green) says that she will call for the establishment of a separate investigation board to examine the Jokela shootings.
      The purpose of the board would not be to conduct a criminal investigation, but rather to ascertain how similar events could be averted in the future.
      Brax said that the board would not apportion blame, but rather try to find opportunities to learn. She feels that a separate board could best evaluate the problems that exist in the present system - if there is a need to improve firearms legislation and psychiatric care.
At the Ministry of the Interior, Chief of Staff Ritva Viljanen says that discussions on setting up such a board have been held with leading officials at the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, and the Ministry of Education.
      "We need to investigate how the situation was dealt with, what we can learn, and how we can prevent things like this. All three important questions need to be examined when exceptional things happen", Viljanen said.
Under the law, when major accidents or natural disasters occur, the Accident Investigation Board, under the authority of the Ministry of Justice, automatically investigates the matter.
      According to Tuomo Karppinen, head of the Accident Investigation Board, his organisation does not have jurisdiction over crimes such as the Jokela killings. For that reason, a separate board must be tailored specifically for this case.
      Three years ago, when Southeast Asia was hit by a tsunami, a separate board was set up in Finland to investigate how Finnish officials dealt with the Finnish citizens who were victims. The board was chaired by former President Martti Ahtisaari.
Classes for pupils at the Jokela school resumed today, Monday. However, the school building itself remains closed while the police investigate the crime scene. The pupils have been assigned alternate premises for their classes.

Previously in HS International Edition:
  School massacre: Ninth graders saw killing of school principal (9.11.2007)
  Jokela: a peaceful little village thrust into world spotlight (9.11.2007)
  Jokela gunman said he used antidepressants (9.11.2007)
  Gunman and eight others die in school shooting spree (8.11.2007)

Helsingin Sanomat

  12.11.2007 - TODAY
 Local clergy help Jokela residents cope with shooting aftermath

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