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Finnish Police Reveal School Shooter’s Motive

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A preteen boy who shot a classmate dead and injured two others was bullied, officers say

Bullying drove a 12-year-old boy to shoot up his school near Helsinki, Finnish police said on Wednesday. The boy killed one classmate and injured two others in the country’s first school shooting in over a decade.

The shooting occurred on Tuesday morning at a lower secondary school in the city of Vantaa, just to the north of Helsinki. The preteen suspect was taken into custody after shooting one male classmate dead and wounding two others. Like the shooter, all of the victims were 12 years old.

“The motive for the act has been confirmed to be bullying,” the country’s national police force said in a statement the following day. “The suspect has said during interrogations that he was the target of bullying, and this information has also been confirmed in the preliminary investigation by the police,” the statement continued.

The suspect, who police say transferred to the school last year, was found outside the building on Tuesday holding a revolver. After the shooting but before officers showed up, he allegedly used the weapon to threaten students who were on their way to a different school.

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Police officers outside a school in Vantaa, Finland, after a shooting incident on April 2, 2024.
Student killed in school shooting in Finland

Including Tuesday’s incident, Finland has recorded only four school shootings in its history. The worst of these took place in 2008, when a college student killed nine students and a teacher at a technical university in the town of Kauhajoki, before turning his weapon – a semiautomatic pistol – on himself. One year earlier, a high school student shot dead six pupils, a school nurse, and his principal in the town of Jokela with a similar weapon. The attacker also committed suicide after his rampage.

The Finnish government responded to the two shootings by raising the minimum age for firearms ownership to 18 and mandating background checks for gun buyers. However, hunting is a popular pastime in Finland, and 15-year-olds can still obtain a permit to legally use other people’s firearms with their parents’ permission.

Although Finland has the world’s eighth-highest rate of civilian gun ownership, gun homicides are rare. According to UN data, Finland has a gun homicide rate of 0.09 deaths per 100,000 people, almost five times lower than that of neighboring Sweden (0.44 per 100,000).

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