SATURDAY: Two dead and seven injured in overnight shooting incident in Hyvinkää
Police officer remains in critical condition; 18-year-old man arrested
The small Finnish town of Hyvinkää, around 50 kilometres north of the capital Helsinki, was in shock on Saturday morning following an overnight shooting incident that has left two dead and seven injured, one of them in a critical condition.
Shortly before 8 a.m. on Saturday morning, police arrested an 18-year-old local man dressed in military fatigues, some six hours after he had opened fire with two rifles from the roof of a low building in the town centre.
An 18-year-old Hyvinkää woman was pronounced dead at the scene, and a 19-year-old man died later in hospital.
A 23-year-old female police officer who was among the first to answer the alarm call remains in critical condition in hospital.
The other victims are all young adults, mostly from the local area.
Police as yet have no idea of the motive for the shootings, but have reported that the assumed perpetrator - who will face charges of murder and attempted murder - had no criminal record to speak of.
The incident began in the centre of the town of roughly 45,000 inhabitants at around 01:50 on the night between Friday and Saturday.
The gunman opened fire with two weapons, one of them a large-calibre 7.62 mm hunting rifle, from a rooftop position on Uudenmaankatu, in front of the Amarillo and Level 5 restaurants and the local S-Market store.
The man did not have a licence for the firearms, which police say were acquired from his immediate circle of friends and family. The police commented that the man had no significant criminal record.
Police units arrived on the scene within a minute of the alarm being raised, according to Chief Inspector Timo Leppälä, speaking at a press briefing on Saturday morning.
In all, the operation involved around 50 officers, including members of the rapid-response Karhu SWAT team.
After firing on the people below, the man had fled, initially on foot, in the direction of Jokelankatu. He did not offer resistance when later apprehended.
The injured are in hospital care in Helsinki's Töölö and Meilahti Hospitals and locally in Hyvinkää.
Aside from the policewoman, the other casualties are not believed to have life-threatening injuries, though several will require surgery.
Police have thus far not commented on whether the shooter knew some or all of his victims.
Investigations will pass to the National Bureau of Investigation, Finland's central criminal police arm, with the likely charges being murder and attempted murder.
The man has broadly admitted his actions, but police are still exploring the possibility that he may have had accomplices, for example to assist him in his flight from the scene.
A scooter and a blue Toyota Hiace van may also have been involved in some way. The man was apprehended a couple of kilometres from the scene of the shootings.
The dead 19-year-old was a member of the local Hyvinkään Tahko Finnish-rules baseball team, and two other members of the same league team were among those injured.
The Superpesis Finnish-rules baseball premier league programme for this weekend has been cancelled following the tragedy.
According to the late-edition tabloid Ilta-Sanomat, both the dead victims were students at the Hyria Vocational Institute and were to have graduated this summer.
The newspaper suggested that the dead woman had been celebrating her upcoming graduation at the time of the shootings.
President Sauli Niinistö offered his condolences and commented briefly on the incident in an appearance on an early morning television interview programme, noting that the act, along with other similar incidents witnessed in the parts in recent years, were an obvious indication of something being broken in society.
He observed that the causes might lie in the intensely competitive society in which we live, where many are given or give themselves goals that cannot be reached, and where we have difficulty understanding failure.
Bearing in mind the earlier school shooting incidents in nearby Jokela and in Kauhajoki, the shootings naturally rapidly crossed the international news threshold.
The BBC covered the story extensively on its web pages, and the Reuters news agency observed that Finland has a large number of firearms relative to the population, and that the 2007 and 2008 spree shootings, which claimed a total of 20 victims including the perpetrators, are still fresh in the memory.
Following those earlier incidents, measures were taken to tighten up access to firearms, but in this case it would appear the gunman took legally-owned weapons without the permission of the licence holder.
Crisis counselling has been set up at the Hyvinkää hospital and a service for the victims and those affected will be held in the Hyvinkää Church this evening.
We shall update this story as it develops.