Finnish police: Bullying believed to be motive for school shooting

Candles, flowers and other memorabilia placed in front of the Viertola school after the fatal incident. A 12-year-old child has died after being shot in a primary school in the Finnish town of Vantaa near Helsinki and two more were injured. Jussi Nukari/Lehtikuva/dpa
Candles, flowers and other memorabilia placed in front of the Viertola school after the fatal incident. A 12-year-old child has died after being shot in a primary school in the Finnish town of Vantaa near Helsinki and two more were injured. Jussi Nukari/Lehtikuva/dpa

Bullying at school is thought to be the motive behind this week's fatal shooting of a 12-year-old boy at a Finnish primary school, police in the city of Vantaa told a press conference on Wednesday.

The suspect, also 12, had revealed under questioning that he had been subjected to bullying at the school, they said. The suspect transferred at the beginning of the year to the sixth class of the school, also attended by the three victims. Two other 12-year-olds were injured.

The incident took place on Tuesday morning. One pupil died at the scene. Two others are critically injured in hospital. Police arrested the suspect soon after the shooting, finding a firearm on him. He did not resist arrest.

The crime is being investigated as murder and attempted murder, police said, with the suspect said to have confessed to the offences during initial questioning. According to the police, the weapon used belonged to a close relative of the boy.

Police said that the boy had threatened other pupils after running away from the school after the shooting.

Flags flew at half-mast across the country on Wednesday. The primary school concerned has 800 pupils divided over two locations in the city of some 200,000 in the south of the country.

The Finnish Ministry of the Interior says there are more than 1.5 million licensed firearms in Finland and around 430,000 authorized owners. Both hunting and gun ownership have a long tradition in the country.

Following the shootings at Finnish schools in 2007 and 2008, which left a total of 20 people dead, the country tightened its gun laws by raising the minimum age for gun ownership and giving the police more powers to check people applying for a gun licence.

Police officers swiftly responded to the scene at Viertola comprehensive school, where a shooting on Tuesday morning left three minors injured. Following the incident, authorities apprehended a suspect, also a minor. Markku Ulander/Lehtikuva/dpa
Police officers swiftly responded to the scene at Viertola comprehensive school, where a shooting on Tuesday morning left three minors injured. Following the incident, authorities apprehended a suspect, also a minor. Markku Ulander/Lehtikuva/dpa
Police officers swiftly responded to the scene at Viertola comprehensive school, where a shooting on Tuesday morning left three minors injured. Following the incident, authorities apprehended a suspect, also a minor. Markku Ulander/Lehtikuva/dpa
Police officers swiftly responded to the scene at Viertola comprehensive school, where a shooting on Tuesday morning left three minors injured. Following the incident, authorities apprehended a suspect, also a minor. Markku Ulander/Lehtikuva/dpa