On September 23, 2008, 22-year-old culinary arts student Matti Saari stormed into Seinajoki University of Applied Sciences in Kauhajoki, Finland, at approximately 10:50 a.m., armed with a Walther .22 pistol and several bombs and wearing a ski mask. He shot and killed 10 people–nine students and his teacher. Three people escaped the classroom. Before committing suicide, Saari called a friend and said he had just murdered 10 people and that, after he died, he wanted to be cremated. He died at Tampere University Hospital several hours later.
The shooting took place during an exam Saari was to be taking. After he shot his friends and teacher, Saari set them on fire. All of the bodies except one were burned beyond recognition. Survivors said that Saari methodically killed the students one by one and appeared to be enjoying it, having a big smile on his face.
A friend who was with the young man the night before said he seemed normal andthatthetwodiscussedtheexam.Saari did mention that he had been interviewed by police about a YouTube video he had posted of himself firing a gun. Others described Saari as an outsider who was not very social. He spent hours surfing the web and was obsessed with guns. He had also been seeing a psychologist. A friend said that Saari told him that he thought the Virginia Tech massacre and perpetrator Seung-Hui Cho were great. Saari had idolized his brother, who died of a heart attack in 2003. This loss seemed to have triggered the worst in him.
The same friend whom Saari called right after the massacre said he had been talking about killing people for approximately 18 months, but that he assumed Saari was kidding. Investigator Jari Neulaniemi said police had found a message at home saying Saari intended to kill as many people as possible. Police suspected that Saari had been in contact with Pekka-Eric Auvinen, the 18-year-old who shot eight people at Jokela High School in Tuusula, Finland, the previous year. This relationship was later confirmed. The two had played war games together online and plotted their attacks. They were on the same team in an Internet war game called Battlefield 2, in which they detonated bombs, shot people, and used headsets to communicate. They even bought their guns at the same weapons store, called Tera-asekeks, a few hundred yards from the school where Auvinen killed eight people and himself in November 2007. Auvinen had also posted a YouTube video about his plans, and both he and Saari has frequently expressed their hatred for humanity.
Subsequent reports revealed that Saari had been kicked out of the army in 2006, after only one month in the service. He scared his superiors and his peers by firing his weapon without orders. Fellow recruits who worked with him described Saari as weird and quiet, and said he had been teased and bullied.
After the massacres, one school was evacuated and others feared copycat shootings. Residents of Kauhajoki were terrified. In response to Auvinen’s and Saari’s massacres, Finish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen said he was considering whether tougher gun laws were needed.
- Allen, N. (2008, September 26). Finland school shooting: Gunman Matti Saari made phone call during slaughter. Telegraph. Retrieved May 6, 2010, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/finland/3083996/Finland-school-shooting-Gunman-Matti-Saari-made-phone-call-during-slaughter.html
- Anglesey, S. (2008, September 23). “YouTube killer” shoots ten dead in spree at Finnish school. The Mirror. Retrieved May 6, 2010, from http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/youtube-killer-shoots-10-dead-340571
- Pettifor, T. (2008, September 25). Finland school gunman Matti Saari shot friends then set them on fire. The Mirror. Retrieved May 6, 2010, from http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/finland-school-gunman-matti-saari-341005