Bullying motive for Finland school shooting that killed 12-year-old boy

People bring candles and flowers at the Viertola school in Vantaa, Finland, Tuesday April 2, 2024, after a shooting incident.
People bring candles and flowers at the Viertola school in Vantaa, Finland, Tuesday April 2, 2024, after a shooting incident. Copyright Roni Rekomaa/Lehtikuva
Copyright Roni Rekomaa/Lehtikuva
By Euronews with AP
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The Finnish government declared Wednesday a nationwide day of mourning, ordering state agencies and institutions to lower the national flag to half-mast.

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The motive for a school shooting in Finland that left a 12-year-old boy dead was bullying, Finnish police said in a statement.

The suspected attacker, also aged 12, was detained and taken into custody after the attack at Viertola school in Vantaa, on the outskirts of Helsinki on Tuesday.

"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," a statement said. 

"The suspect had transferred to the Viertola school at the beginning of this year", it noted.

The shooter and the victims were all classmates and the two injured girls are still in hospital.

Police have opened a murder and attempted murder investigation, which was carried out with “a revolver-like handgun". 

Due to his age, the suspect cannot be held criminally responsible and has now been handed to the care of social services.

The flag of Finland flies at half-mast at the Viertola school in Vantaa, Finland, on Wednesday, April 3, 2024.
The flag of Finland flies at half-mast at the Viertola school in Vantaa, Finland, on Wednesday, April 3, 2024.Jussi Nukari/Lehtikuva

Public buildings across Finland lowered their flags from 08:00 local time on Wednesday to mark a day of mourning.

Finnish blue-and-white flags were hoisted at half-staff and scores of people including parents, teachers and fellow students laid flowers and lit candles in the snowy landscape near the school building where the shooting occurred.

Many private households across Finland joined in the commemoration.

In the past decades, Finland has witnessed two major deadly school shootings.

In November 2007, an 18-year-old student armed with a semi-automatic pistol opened fire at the premises of the Jokela High School in Tuusula, southern Finland, killing nine people.

He was later found dead with self-inflicted wounds.

In September 2008, a 22-year-old student shot and killed 10 people with a semi-automatic pistol at a vocational college in Kauhajoki, southwestern Finland, before fatally shooting himself.

In the Nordic nation of 5.6 million, there are more than 1.5 million licensed firearms and about 430,000 license holders, according to the Finnish Interior Ministry.

Hunting and gun ownership have long traditions in the sparsely-populated northern European country.

Responsibility for granting permits for ordinary firearms rests with local police departments.

Following the school shootings in 2007 and 2008, Finland tightened its gun laws by raising the minimum age for firearms ownership and giving police greater powers to make background checks on individuals applying for a gun license.

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