A 22-year-old student at a Finnish adult training college went on a random shooting spree today.
At least nine people were reported dead before the gunman, identified locally as Matti Saari shot himself.
It was the second school shooting in Finland in less than a year, raising the prospect of a clampdown on gun ownership. Finland has one of the highest numbers of gun owners per head of population in the world, ranking third behind the U.S. and Yemen
The gunman sustained severe head wounds after shooting himself and subsequently died in hospital, authorities said.
According to Jukka Forsberg, a maintenance man at the vocational school in the town of Kauhajoki the guman “entered the building with an automatic pistol and started cutting down students.”
“He also shot towards me, did not say anything and once the bullets started to whizz by I started running for my life.”
The school, which calls itself the “Kauhajoki School of Hospitality”, had 150 students and 40 teachers as of 2005, according to the official website.
Rescue coordinator Kari Saarinen, who is also chief physician at Seinajoki hospital, about 40 miles from Kauhajoki, said hospitals in the area were on full emergency alert.
The shooting follows the killings at Finland’s Jokela high school last year, where student Pekka-Eric Auvinen killed six fellow students, the school nurse and the principal after broadcasting his intent with a video on You Tube.
Auvinen shot himself and died later of his injuries.
After last year’s shooting the Finnish government toughened gun regulations and further restrictions are now expected.
However the recurrence of high profile random shootings has caused some to ask whether, like Dunblane and Hungerford, they are being used to provide a pretext for more stringent control of guns. And whether or not the authorities are complicit in this and to what degree.
In November 1991 a police sergeant investigating Dunblane murderer Thomas Hamilton’s alleged abuse of young boys recommended his firearms licence be revoked.
The authorities did nothing until March 1996 when Hamilton went on his shooting spree: whereupon the U.K. passed one of the world most prohibitive firearms legislation.
Likewise it has now been revealed that the killer in Finland’s latest massacre was questioned by police the day before he went on his rampage.
Anne Holmlund, the Finnish Interior Minister, told reporters that police had questioned the man after being tipped off by a member of the public about videos he had posted on You Tube but had no legal reason to detain him and decided not to withdraw his gun permit.
Which sounds suspiciously like the killer was apprehended but allowed to go on his rampage because it served a darker agenda.