Finnish school shooter planned his act for years: Police

September 24th, 2008 - 2:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Helsinki, Sep 24 (DPA) The 22-year-old man who killed 10 people at a trade school in western Finland Tuesday had apparently planned the massacre since 2002, police said Wednesday.The gunman, whom police identified as Matti Juhani Saari, had left messages in his flat near the trade school in Kauhajoki, about 300 km north-west of Helsinki where the shootings took place.

Saari, who was also a student at the trade school, died Tuesday of self-inflicted wounds in hospital.

The messages suggested he despised humanity and he appeared to have planned his deed since 2002. One message stated “the solution is Walther”, which appeared to be a reference to a Walther P22 pistol.

Saari also posted video clips on the Internet including the video sharing site YouTube firing a pistol at a shooting range.

Police contacted him last week and then again Monday over the videos, but his license was not suspended.

The bodies of the victims have been taken to Helsinki for formal identification. The process was difficult since Saari had set fires in the school and several of the bodies were burned.

The victims were from Kauhajoki, which has less than 15,000 inhabitants, and the nearby region.

Flags across the country were lowered to half-mast Wednesday.

The school bloodshed was the worst in the country’s history and came less than a year after eight people including six students were killed at a high school in Jokela, 60 km north of Helsinki.

Prior to that November 2007 incident, the 18-year-old student gunman had also posted a video on YouTube.

The incident triggered a series of threats against schools in Finland and its Nordic neighbours, while also sparking calls for tougher legislation on gun ownership. The legislation is still under review.

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