HELSINKI: The 12-year-old boy who shot and killed a fellow sixth-grader and severely injured two others at a school in Finland has explained that he was a target of bullying, and this was the motive for his attack, police said on Wednesday (Apr 3).

The boy on Tuesday brought a relative’s revolver to the Viertola school near Helsinki and shot the three 12-year-olds and threatened several others. He had transferred to the school at the beginning of 2024, investigators said.

The government asked Finns to join in a day of mourning on Wednesday and ordered that flags on public buildings be flown at half-mast in a symbol of respect for the dead child. The two other pupils remained in hospital.

“We just found out today that there was this bullying behind the tragedy,” lead investigator Detective Chief Inspector Marko Sarkka told Reuters.

The preliminary police probe had confirmed that the boy was a target of bullying, investigators said in a separate statement. Sarkka declined to elaborate.

Police have not said whether the attacker sought to target any specific individuals.

Finland has seen a rising level of bullying in schools, with 8.6 per cent of pupils who are now around 12 years old saying they had been targeted at least once a week, up from 7.2 per cent in 2019, according to a 2023 study by public health institute THL. The permit for the revolver used in Wednesday’s attack belonged to a relative of the suspect, according to police. It was not immediately clear how the shooter had obtained the weapon.

“This matter is being investigated by the police as a separate firearms offence,” investigators said in a statement.

The two other Viertola school students hurt in the attack sustained life-threatening injuries, police said on Wednesday.

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