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9/24/2008

Finnish gunman planned rampage for six years

Filed under: rampage — admin @ 12:56 pm

The student gunman who shot and killed 10 people at a Finnish college on Tuesday planned such a rampage as far back as 2002, drawing inspiration from such events as the U.S. Columbine massacre, police said.

“There was a note found at his home saying ‘I have always wanted to murder as many people as possible’,” the National Bureau of Investigation’s Jari Neulaniemi told a news conference on Wednesday.

Matti Saari, 22, killed nine fellow students — eight female and one male — and one male staff member at a travel and hospitality college a day after being interviewed by police about online videos of himself at a gun range.

The shooting in the town of Kauhajoki in western Finland was a fresh shock for the Nordic country, still reeling from a similar massacre last November.

Then, 18-year-old Pekka-Eric Auvinen shot eight people dead before killing himself — an act that like Saari’s was telegraphed by menacing video clips on YouTube. Like Auvinen, Saari turned his gun on himself and died later in hospital of a head wound.

“He seems to be a young man with two faces — a silent boy at school, but he led another life in his hostel apartment with the laptop,” said Tapio Varmola, principal of Seinajoki University of Applied Sciences which runs the Kauhajoki college where Saari was a student.

Varmola said he did not know Saari personally but was in the building when screams began from the floor below. He said students, staff and family members who met on Wednesday in Kauhajoki were still shaken and depressed.

The students were in a room taking an exam when Saari opened fire with a Walther .22 handgun. He also shot at police and rescue services personnel, but police did not return fire.

All but one victim were so badly burnt in fires set by Saari that police said they would have to rely on DNA testing and dental records for final identification of the bodies.

MOURNING THE DEAD

Flags flew at half staff across Finland on Wednesday as the country asked itself tough questions about the Internet and private gun ownership.

Media focussed on the parallels between Jokela and Kauhajoki, including boastful Internet videos and the same calibre handgun.

Saari listed on the Web two favourite videos about the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in the United States where two students murdered 12 other pupils and a teacher before killing themselves. In one of his Internet clips, he points to the camera, says “You will die next,” and fires four rapid shots.

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