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Second massacre in year reopens gun law debate

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Egan Richardson and Duncan Campbell
London Guardian
Wednesday, Sept 24, 2008

A student gunman who killed 10 people at a college in Finland yesterday had been detained by police the day before because of a YouTube posting that showed him firing a handgun and threatening: “You will die next”. The massacre was the second such shooting at a Finnish college in a year.

The gunman, wearing a ski mask and identified by local press as Matti Juhani Saari, a 22-year-old trainee chef, entered a classroom at Kauhajoki school of hospitality, 180 miles north-west of Helsinki, shortly before 11am yesterday. Without any apparent warning, he opened fire with a .22 handgun on 20 students sitting an exam. He also detonated several petrol bombs, which caused a fire at the school. By the time he turned the gun on himself, Saari had killed nine students. He died of self-inflicted head wounds in hospital a few hours later.

The YouTube site that alerted police five days earlier also had postings showing Saari and his handgun entitled “me and my Walther P22″. He added that his hobbies were “computers, guns, sex and beers”. In another entry, he wrote that “whole life is war and whole life is pain. And you will fight alone in your personal war”. He listed clips of the 1999 Columbine school shootings in Colorado as among his favourite videos and said his favourite films included Saw 1, 2 and 3, and The Shining.

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Police spokesman Jari Neulaniemi said the gunman left two handwritten messages at the school dormitory saying he had planned the attack since 2002 and that he hated the human race.

A day of national mourning was being observed today in Finland. “We have experienced a tragic day,” said Matti Vanhanen, the prime minister. He expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and said the shooting had “unfortunate similarities” with last year’s massacre.

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This article was posted: Wednesday, September 24, 2008 at 4:06 am





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