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Finland school shooting: Police questioned and released suspect over YouTube video September 23, 2008

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Telegraph, 23 September 2008

A gunman who shot dead ten people at a school in Finland before killing himself had been questioned by police earlier this week over YouTube videos showing him at a shooting range, the country’s interior minister said.

Police were alerted to a clip posted on the video sharing website showing a young man wielding a handgun at a shooting range, Anne Holmlund said.

“Police reached him on Monday, Sept 22, and asked him to be interviewed regarding the shooting video,” Ms Holmlund said. He was later released.

She said the man arrested, identified by the school’s headmaster as Matti Juhani Saari, had a temporary permit for a .22 calibre pistol and that the permit had not been withdrawn.

Link: Video report on massacre

At 11am (800 GMT) today, a man stormed the vocational school in the town of Kauhajoki, 120 miles from Helsinki, in northwest Finland, firing “many shots” that left ten people dead. He died later in hospital after turning the gun on himself.

“Within a short space of time I heard several dozen rounds of shots, in other words it was an automatic pistol,” school janitor Jukka Forsberg told Finnish broadcaster YLE.

“I saw some female students who were wailing and moaning and one managed to escape out of the back door.”

“He also shot towards me, did not say anything and once the bullets started to whizz by I started running for my life.”

Finnish media said YouTube clips of a man firing a gun appeared to be linked to the shooting. In one of them, a young man wearing a leather jacket fires several shots in rapid succession with a handgun at what appears to be a shooting range.

Link: Shooting Range video by suspect Matti Saari

The posting was made five days before the shooting and the location was given as Kauhajoki. The posting included a message saying: “Whole life is war and whole life is pain. And you will fight alone in your personal war.”

Link: “You will die next” video by suspect Matti Saari

The shooting raised the spectre of the massacre at a Finnish high school in Jokela, north of Helsinki, less than a year ago.

On November 7, 2007, 18-year-old student Pekka-Eric Auvinen shot six students, the school’s headmistress and a nurse before turning his gun on himself.

Auvinen, who had posted footage foreshadowing the November 2007 massacre on YouTube, was a student at the school.

In the video, Pekka-Eric Auvinen, 18, described himself as a “social Darwinist” who would “eliminate all who I see unfit”.

Link: Report about Pekka-Eric Auvinen

The 2007 attack triggered a fierce debate about gun laws in the Nordic nation with deep-rooted traditions of hunting in the sub-Arctic wilderness.

With 1.6 million firearms in private hands, Finland is an anomaly in Europe, lagging behind only the US and Yemen in civilian gun ownership.