TUUSULA, Finland (Reuters) - Seven children were killed when a fellow pupil opened fire at a school in southern Finland on Wednesday, hours after a video was posted on YouTube predicting a massacre there.
The school principal also died. The gunman, who had walked through Jokela High School firing into classroom after classroom with a .22-caliber handgun, is in hospital after wounding himself in the head.
“Five boys, two girls and one adult woman were killed,” police chief Matti Tohkanen told a news conference.
He later identified the woman as the principal of the school in Tuusula municipality, a town of 35,000 some 60 km (40 miles) from Helsinki.
The YouTube video, set to a hard-driving song called “Stray Bullet,” shows a still photo of a low building that appears to be Jokela High School. The photo breaks apart to reveal a red-tinted picture of a man pointing a handgun at the camera.
“He (the gunman) was moving systematically through the school hallways, knocking on the doors and shooting through the doors,” said Kim Kiuru, who was teaching a grade 8 class when the shooting began.
“It felt unreal, a pupil I have taught myself was running towards me, screaming, a pistol in his hand.”
Police said the gun used in the massacre was legal and registered to the gunman on October 19.
“When police arrived there was complete chaos, pupils were jumping out of the building through the windows,” said inspector Timo Leppala, head of the field investigation.
Outside a church community building close by, a mother waited as a Red Cross bus pulled up outside. She watched children stepping off the bus and burst into tears when, through a window, she spotted her child, unharmed.
The YouTube video, entitled “Jokela High School Massacre - 11/7/2007,” was posted by a user called Sturmgeist89.
“I am prepared to fight and die for my cause,” read a posting by a user of the same name.
“I, as a natural selector, will eliminate all who I see unfit, disgraces of human race and failures of natural selection.” “Sturmgeist” means storm spirit in German.
Lyrics to various KMFDM songs, including “Stray Bullet,” were posted on a web site maintained by Eric Harris, one of the gunmen in the 1999 Columbine High School massacre.
Hours after the shooting, the user’s account was suspended.
The school serves some 500 middle and high school students.
“This is a peaceful place, nothing like this has happened and nothing like this is to be expected either,” Tuusula mayor Hannu Joensivu said.
Despite having the world’s third-largest per capita handgun ownership, violent incidents are rare at Finnish schools.
According to Finnish media, there have been four stabbings at schools since 1999. None of these caused fatalities.
Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen told reporters the shooting was an “extremely sad event.”
The last major attack in the country occurred in 2002 when a young man killed including himself and six others in a bomb blast at a shopping mall in Helsinki.
Additional reporting by Sakari Suoninen, Terhi Kinnunen and Agnieszka Flak; Editing by Robert Woodward