Thursday, September 25, 2008

Panic Sweeps Finland and Sweden

The cult of Columbine is being realized anew. I've been getting media calls from Finland, Netherlands, Belgium, and other European countries asking whether I see any overlaps between this week's shooting in Finland and other school shootings. Of course, I do.

The previous Finland school shooter exhibited several ties to Columbine and other recent incidents. The Jokela school shooting occurred on November 7, 2007 at Jokela High School (Finnish: Jokelan koulukeskus), a public secondary school in the town of Jokela, Tuusula municipality, Finland. The gunman was 18-year-old Pekka-Eric Auvinen.

Pekka-Eric Auvinen uploaded a home-made movie entitled "Jokela High School Massacre - 11/7/2007" to YouTube announcing the "massacre" hours prior to the shooting. KMFDM's "Stray Bullet" was used as background music. The KMFDM track used in his video, "Stray Bullet", was also used on the website of Columbine shooter Eric Harris.

Several hours after the 2007 event, YouTube suspended some videos belonging to the username Sturmgeist89 due to relations with the shootings. Sturmgeist means "Stormspirit" in German. This appears to have been a reference to KMFDM, as Sturm had been a member of the band. Dylan Klebold, and Eric Harris (Columbine's shooters, were also KMFDM fans and Eric wore a KMFDM hat during the shooting) was idolized by Auvinen. His previous YouTube account name was "naturalselector89", which he used from March 2007 until it was suspended in October 2007. Many of Auvinen's videos were about other shootings and violent incidents, including the Columbine High School massacre, the Waco Siege, the Tokyo sarin gas attack, and bombing during the Iraq invasion.

Spokesman for the cyber crime department of Helsinki police has stated that "it's highly probable that there was some form of contact between Pekka-Eric Auvinen and Dillon Cossey." The 14-year-old Cossey was arrested in October 2007 on suspicion of planning an attack on his school in a suburb of Philadelphia.

There is developing information that Auvinen and this week's Finnish school shooter Matti Saari may have been in contact too. Certainly it is now known that they both bought their guns at the same place in Jokela.

Before the 2007 incident, another school shooting occurred in 1989 at the Raumanmeri school in Rauma, Finland, when a 14-year-old fatally shot two fellow students.

Now the latest....

Panic spread among students in Finland on Thursday (September 25, 2008) as threatening text messages and Internet postings raised fears of new attacks mimicking a deadly school rampage.

Worried children and parents jammed telephone help lines and scores of children stayed away from class after threats popped up against schools and students, noted Associated Press writer Marius Turula from Kauhajoki, Finland.

While most appeared to be hoaxes, police were taking every threat seriously to avoid a repeat of Tuesday's shooting (September 23, 2008), in which a 22-year-old gunman killed 10 people and himself at a vocational school in this town in western Finland.

It was the second school shooting in the country in less than a year. Last November 2007, an 18-year-old man fatally shot eight people and himself at a high school in southern Finland.

"It's clear that the more you talk about these incidents, the more chances there are of copycats," National Police Commissioner Mikko Paatero told reporters in Helsinki. "After we've witnessed two such incidents, the threat is real."

Both gunmen posed with or fired guns in YouTube clips posted before the rampages. The similarities between the attacks — including reports that they bought their guns at the same place — prompted police to probe potential links between them.

"The cases were similar. They were the same type of person, so it could be possible," investigation leader Jari Neulaniemi told The Associated Press. "They had the same style of hair, same kind of clothing, same interests and ideals — and their deeds were the same."

The jitters spread to neighboring Sweden, where one school was evacuated. Police arrested a 16-year-old boy after viewing a suspicious YouTube clip in which he posed with weapons. He was released after police said the video was just a prank.

Police in both countries stepped up their surveillance of YouTube and other Web sites to monitor for signs of possible attack plans.

"We'd be looking to see if we can, by careful analysis, weed out some who would pose a potential threat," said Tero Kuremaa, from the National Bureau of Investigation.

In Finland, police held two young men for questioning about threatening Internet postings, evacuated at least one school and detained a 15-year-old for allegedly sending threats to another school.

Meanwhile, investigators struggled to find the origin of the text messages that sparked fear among students.

"The text messages are threatening in nature and are causing fear and hysteria among young people, and we must stop them," said Urpo Lintula, a spokesman for the regional police department that covers Kauhajoki.

He added that Finland saw a similar wave of threats after the November 2007 shooting.

Police, psychiatrists and social workers set up dozens of crisis help lines nationwide to deal with reported threats, calls for help and to provide counseling. The Finnish Red Cross closed down a chat line after 350 callers jammed switchboards.

"There's a lot of uncertainty in the air and there's a lot of fear," said Tero Hintsa, a Red Cross worker in Kauhajoki. Scores of children stayed away from class Wednesday (Sept. 24, 2008) and Thursday (Sept. 25), he said.

A 500-student school in the southern town of Keuruu was evacuated after suspicious text messages and Internet postings. A 15-year-old boy was arrested in the west coast city of Turku for allegedly sending threatening messages to a school, STT news agency reported.

Police in the central town of Kajaani detained two men aged 18 and 23 for menacing messages they had posted on the Internet.

"They were fairly vague but they mentioned shootings in schools and bomb explosions," Kajaani police spokesman Arto Lumikari said, adding the men were not believed to be planning any attacks.

On Tuesday, September 23, 2008, Matti Saari killed eight female students, one male teacher and one male student, and torched their bodies. A 21-year-old woman whom Saari shot in the head was still hospitalized after having two operations.

Sanna Orpana, 17, told AP Television News that she was in the classroom next door when the shooting began at the school.

"We started to hear shooting and a kind of a rumble like tables falling down. We thought someone is playing around, fooling with toy guns," she said, adding that a few students went to look in the other room. "The guy was there with a gun, and tried to shoot them."


Associated Press writers Matti Huuhtanen and Jari Tanner in Helsinki and Karl Ritter in Stockholm, Sweden, contributed to this report.

Also thanks to Todd Campbell.


Anonymous said...

A. Magnus Publius said...

Why pick on KMFDM? The lyrics for the song Stray Bullet have nothing to do with taking out a school full of kids:

I am your holy totem
I am your sick taboo
Radical and radiant
I'm your nightmare coming true
I am your worst enemy
I am your dearest friend
Malignantly Malevolent
I am of divine descent

I have come to rock your world
I have come to shake your faith
Anathematic Anarchist
I have come to take my place

I am your unconsciousness
I am unrestrained excess
Metamorphic restlessness
I'm your unexpectdness

I am your apocalypse
I am your belief unwrought
Monolithic juggernaut
I'm the illegitimate son of god

Stray bullet
From the barrel of love
Stray bullet
From the heavens above
Stray bullet
Ready or not
I'm the illegitimate son of god

Just because some pinheads happen to appreciate good music doesn't mean that the music makes them do it.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Hah, Italy protesters rally against Berlusconi