Police analyzed a suicide note and hate-filled Internet postings yesterday, searching for clues about what led a bullied teenage outcast to launch an indiscriminate killing spree at his school that left eight other people dead.
Finns mourned the victims of the school massacre, with flags across the Nordic nation flying at half staff. Grieving students placed candles outside the sealed-off high school in southern Finland, and the president attended a memorial service for the victims in the capital.
Investigators said Pekka-Eric Auvinen, 18, appeared bent on causing maximum bloodshed as he opened fire on Wednesday inside Jokela High School in Tuusula, some 50 kilometers north of Helsinki.
Six pupils of Jokela High School, along with the school's principal and its nurse, were killed when student Pekka-Eric Auvinen, who had a keen interest in war history and extremist movements, opened fire with a .22 calibre handgun in the middle of the school day.
Police chief Matti Tohkanen said Auvinen belonged to a gun club and got a license for the pistol on October 19. He did not have a previous criminal record and "was from an ordinary family".
"There's nothing that links him with the victims except that they attended the same school," Detective Superintendent Tero Haapala said.
Investigators gave a chilling account of the mayhem, which started just before noon and ended two hours later when police found Auvinen in a bathroom near the school cafeteria with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head.
He died at a hospital a few hours later.
Police found 69 shells at the scene, suggesting Auvinen fired at least as many shots. The victims were shot in the head or the upper body - some with only a few gunshot wounds, others with almost 20, Haapala told a news conference.
The killer also tried to start a fire, dousing the floor and walls of the second floor of the school building in a flammable liquid, but failed to ignite it, Haapala said.
Haapala described Auvinen as a "lonely rider" who was bullied by other students. He said the motive for his rampage remained uncertain, "but the explanation can be found mainly in his web writings and his social behavior."
Police spokesman Goran Wennqvist said that Auvinen left a suicide note at his home before the attack "saying goodbye to his family and a message indicating his will against society".
A pupil, Terhi Vayrynen, 17, said that her brother Henri, 13, witnessed the killing of the principal through his classroom window. The girl said the gunman came into Henri's class shouting: "Revolution. Smash everything."
Grieving students placed candles outside the school, which was still roped off by police tape as forensic experts sought to reconstruct the shooting spree.
The Memorial services were held across Finland including in Tuusula, where a church was turned into a crisis center with experts on hand to comfort grieving residents.
After a service at Helsinki Cathedral, President Tarja Halonen called on Finns to support each other in what she called a day of sorrow for the nation of 5.2 million.
Source: China Daily/Agencies