The events leading up to Tuesday’s school shooting in Viertola have begun to unfold. Here’s what we know so far.

Parliament held a moment of silence in honor of the victims of the school shooting on April 3, 2024. Photograph: TONY ÖHBERG/FINLAND TODAY

The motive for the school shooting at the Jokiranta branch of the Viertola school in Vantaa on Tuesday morning has been confirmed to be bullying, the Eastern Uusimaa Police Department noted in a statement.

The suspect, a 12-year-old boy, had also shouted about bullying during the shooting in his classroom of sixth-graders (according to MTV News), in which two girls of the same age were seriously injured and a boy died at the scene. One of the girls was identified by the Kosovo Foreign Ministry as Albanian.

The shooter was wearing ear protection and, according to the police, “some kind of scarf.”

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After shooting three people, the suspect fled the scene.

The suspect had recently moved from a small town of a few thousand people in the Uusimaa region to Helsinki, according to recent media reports.

The shooting appears to have been premeditated, according to police.

“The preliminary investigation has revealed facts that suggest that the act was planned. Searches of devices seized from the suspect’s possession, such as a telephone and a computer, have revealed material that supports this view,” Marko Särkkä, a detective inspector at the Eastern Uusimaa Police Department, said in a statement.

After the shooting began, other students were locked in classrooms awaiting instructions from authorities. The pupils remained locked in their classrooms for hours.

Outside, after hearing a gunshot near the school in the nearby dog park, a Vantaa resident looked in the direction of the loud bang and noticed a young boy approaching with a hood over his head and a gun in his left hand. The idea that the boy was carrying a toy gun was abandoned when the boy shouted: “Don’t look, just keep walking!”

Flags in Finland were flown at half-staff as the country mourned the victims of the shooting. Photograph: TONY ÖHBERG/FINLAND TODAY

According to the eyewitness, the boy crossed the wooden bridge over the Kerava River and walked briskly toward the nearby Lidl.

The boy’s movements on the bridge were also witnessed by an elderly lady. The lady was also looking at the gun, but she walked past the boy and said nothing to him, according to the Vantaa resident.

On his way to Siltamäki, a district few kilometers away from the school, the suspect had threatened other students on their way to school in Siltamäki with the gun, the police noted in a statement. This is being investigated as an illegal threat.

About 50 minutes after the shooting, the police arrested the suspect, and an eyewitness video showed the police holding a young boy on the ground on the street in Siltamäki, with the weapon in front of him. It appeared to be a revolver, and it was confirmed by the police on Wednesday that the weapon was, in fact, a .22 caliber miniature revolver.

According to the preliminary investigation, the weapon seems to belong to a close relative, but the police will confirm this later.

Read also:  Vantaa School Shooting Claims One 12-Year-Old Victim and Leaves Two Seriously Injured
Anna-Maja Henriksson (SPP), the minister of education, was deeply saddened by the shooting in Vantaa. She burst into tears at an earlier press conference. Photograph: TONY ÖHBERG/FINLAND TODAY

Eino Leino said that death is a cloud under the sun.

After a sunny and warm Easter, clouds covered Vantaa and the whole of Finland yesterday.

Paula Risikko (NCP), the deputy speaker of Parliament, introduced the Finnish poet to the plenary session on Wednesday before Parliament was about to hold a moment of silence in honor of the victims of the school shooting.

“We have received the shocking news of a school shooting at Viertola School in Vantaa. A twelve-year-old schoolgirl is dead, two are seriously injured and many are deeply shocked,” Risikko said.

She continued:

“We also received the news with shock. Many of us could only keep silent. The death of a young child is too sad to put into words, to express emotions. We quietly ask ourselves why and how we can prevent such events in the future. We do not know these children, but we can think and act in the words of Eino Leino:

I do not know your beginning,

I have no idea of your end,

but both are in my heart.

With these words, I offer my condolences and the condolences of Parliament to the families and friends of the victims and to all those who have experienced this grief.

At the same time, I wish a speedy recovery and healing to those injured.

We now pause to share the grief of the relatives and friends of the victims of the incident in Vantaa.”

Prime Minister Petteri Orpo (NCP) said in an earlier press conference that he was shocked at how young the suspected shooter and the victims were. Photograph: TONY ÖHBERG/FINLAND TODAY

Members of Parliament, dressed in dark suits and dresses, crossed their fingers. They bowed their heads. Many closed their eyes.

The minute seemed like eons.

The day before, a few hours after the suspected school shooter had been captured, Prime Minister Petteri Orpo (NCP), Interior Minister Mari Rantanen (Finns), and Education Minister Anna-Maja Henriksson (SPP) held a press conference.

Prime Minister Orpo assured that the authorities and school staff are doing their utmost every day to prevent this from happening again.

Minister Henriksson broke down in tears.

“One 12-year-old child will never come home from school again, and two have been seriously injured,” Henriksson said, tears welling in her eyes.

At the time of writing, it’s unclear, whether the severely injured girls in the hospital will survive. “The girl’s condition is quite bad,” said a family friend of the girl, who is a dual citizen of Finland and Kosovo, to the Finnish tabloid Ilta-Snomat. “Also according to the doctors.” The other victim is a Finnish national.

Meanwhile, the alleged perpetrator is not criminally responsible due to his age and therefore cannot be arrested or detained.

After questioning and pre-trial investigation, he will be turned over to social services.

But as one police officer said in a recent interview:

“He will probably remember what he did for the rest of his life.”

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