Finland Shaken By Another Violent School Shooting

on September 27, 2008

BBC News: “Finnish College Gunman Kills 10” Finland has been shaken by another violent school shooting, the second in less than a year.

Matt Juhani Saari, 22, shot and killed 10 people at a vocational college in the town of Kauhajoki, Finland. Cornered in by police, he shot himself and died later at a hospital.

Local police even interviewed Saari ... but did not have enough evidence to revoke his gun license and let him go.

The school shooting has eerie similarities to another one that took place in Finland last November (see News to Note, November 10, 2007 for coverage) in that in both cases, the killers posted YouTube videos of themselves brandishing guns shortly before the killings. In the case of Saari, the video of him firing a handgun at a shooting range concludes with him turning to the camera, saying “you die next,” and firing three times in the camera’s direction.

Tragically, local police even interviewed Saari Monday in response to the video, but did not have enough evidence to revoke his gun license and let him go.

Unsurprisingly, Saari spent a short stint in the Finnish military before being expelled after opening fire on fellow soldiers. “He wasn’t very good at shooting and didn’t really know how to handle a gun,” a fellow recruit told media.

Saari was in his second year of culinary training at a vocational college in Kauhajoki, where approximately 150 students were on the morning of the shooting. Dressed in black and wearing a ski mask, Saari first opened fire, then started fires, as the Associated Press reports, using gasoline bombs. All but one of the victims were reportedly burned beyond recognition.

In all, Saari killed eight female students, one male student, and one male teacher, and also wounded a female student.

Just before last year’s shooting, killer Pekka-Eric Auvinen claimed online he would act as a “natural selector” to “eliminate all who I see unfit, disgraces of human race, and failures of natural selection.” He concluded, “It’s time to put NATURAL SELECTION & SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST back on tracks!” [emphasis in original]. He also called himself a “social Darwinist” and, during the massacre, wore a shirt that read, “humanity is overrated” in all-caps.

That T-shirt was a reminder of the shirt worn by Columbine killer Eric Harris during that massacre, which read “natural selection” in all-caps. Unsurprisingly, Saari, too, looked up to Harris and his Columbine co-murderer Dylan Klebold. Der Spiegel reports that Saari “was apparently fascinated by the American students who shot up Columbine High School in 1999” in an article explaining how Saari had planned the shooting since 2002.

The Irish Times reports that Saari’s YouTube profile listed “guns, computers, sex, and beer” as his hobbies, along with noting that he liked horror movies and heavy metal. Video clips of the Columbine massacre were tagged among his favorite YouTube videos.

The latest revelation, however, is that Saari and Auvinen knew one another. The Telegraph reports that the two played on the same team in an online game called Battlefield 2, communicating via headset. The two also messaged one another over the Internet, talking about plans for a school shooting and pledging to “do it together” and even buying their weapons from the same store.

“[B]oth expressed a similarly worded hatred for humanity,” The Telegraph explains, adding that the death of Saari’s older brother in 2003 may have contributed to his state of mind.

Such horrors are indicative of being separated from God.

As happens after every tragic school shooting—and, indeed, after any tragedy or case of loss—many people are asking why the shooting happened. The answers range from political to sociological to psychological, and most have some amount of truth to them. But the ultimate answer to “why?” lies in the book of Genesis. By remembering humankind’s willing Fall into sin and the consequential Curse on earth, we understand that God is not to blame for violence and death—whether human-caused or nature-caused—but that such horrors are indicative of being separated from God.

That’s why Christians praise God for sending His Son to bridge the gap and bear the penalty for our sin, opening an escape route and reuniting us with God. While the consequences of sin are still with us, we know that God is loving and will ultimately wipe away every tear (Revelation 21:4).

But when the tale of cosmic history students are taught includes eons of amoral death and violence, with the animals of humanity merely the accidental result of billions of years of chance, and morals simply a social construct to make us feel better, why should anyone be surprised when—quoting Darwinian “scripture”—self-proclaimed “natural selectors” pick up guns and start shooting?

Remember, if you see a news story that might merit some attention, let us know about it! (Note: if the story originates from the Associated Press, Fox News, MSNBC, the New York Times, or another major national media outlet, we will most likely have already heard about it.) And thanks to all of our readers who have submitted great news tips to us.

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