Child dead and two more gravely injured after school shooting in Finland

A 12-year-old boy shot dead a child at his school in Vantaa, north of Helsinki, and seriously wounded two other children, Finnish police said, AFP reported.

Police said they were dispatched to the scene shortly after 09:00 local time (06:00 GMT) at the school, which has 800 pupils aged between 7 and 15, located on two sites, and the suspect was detained around 10:00 in Helsinki.

"Today, after 9:00 a.m., a shooting took place at Vjortola Primary School in Vantaa, during which a sixth-grader from the school died," Ilkka Koskimyaki, a police official, told a news conference. He was killed on the spot.

"Two children were also seriously injured," he added.

Police said the arrest of the young suspect, who had attended the same school, "took place calmly" and he was in possession of a firearm. A murder and attempted murder investigation has been launched.

The youth will not be jailed as he is under 15 years of age, said another police official, Marku Sherkya. He will be handed over to social services after questioning.

In a video broadcast by the daily Iltaheti and presented as the suspect's arrest, two policemen are seen holding a man lying on his stomach.

A witness tells the newspaper that shots rang out in the yard.

"At first I didn't realize it was a weapon. Then there was a terrible scream and children rushed into the yard," he said.

One of the parents, Janne Savolainen, said he had been in contact with his daughter while school was in session.

"She managed to send me WhatsApp messages saying they were sitting on the floor waiting for instructions from the teachers," he said.

The students were kept in their classrooms all morning and soon parents flocked to the school. Shortly after noon, police began letting parents in to reunite with their children.

A crisis unit was set up, which included staff from the school and local authorities.

"I can only imagine the pain and anxiety that many families are feeling at this moment," Interior Minister Marie Rantanen responded to X.

Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said he was "deeply shocked" by the incident, adding that his thoughts were with the victims, their parents, other students, and teachers.

The Scandinavian country suffered two similar tragedies in the early 2000s.

In November 2007, an 18-year-old man opened fire at a high school in Jokela, about 50 km north of the capital Helsinki, and killed eight people: the principal, the nurse and six students. The attacker committed suicide after the attack.

A year later, in September 2008, a shooting was carried out at a vocational school in Kauhajoki (west of the country) by 22-year-old Matti Juhani Saari, killing 10 people. He also committed suicide soon after.

Since then, hundreds of schools have been threatened by similar acts, according to the Journal of Scandinavian Studies in Criminology and Crime Prevention, which points to mental health issues as a major cause of this disaster. / BGNES