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Gunman kills 2, wounds 7 in Finland, then arrested

- Associated Press - Saturday, May 26, 2012

HELSINKI (AP) — An 18-year-old gunman killed two people and wounded seven early Saturday in a random shooting in a southern Finnish town, police said.

Officers arrested the suspect near Hyvinkaa, some five hours after he fired several shots from a low rooftop at people gathered outside a restaurant just before 2 a.m. (2300 GMT Friday), said Detective Chief Inspector Markku Tuominen.

The local man, who had no criminal record, surrendered peacefully and has acknowledged the shootings, police said.

"He has recounted the course of events in some detail, but he has not given any reason for what led to these events," said Mika Ihaksinen from the National Bureau of Investigation. "At the moment it looks like the shooting was random."

The gunman killed a woman and man — both aged 18 — and critically wounded a 23-year-old female police officer who arrived at the scene. Six other wounded people were being treated in hospital.

The victims were not identified, but the dead included a member of a local Finnish baseball team, and the federation responded by canceling all top baseball league games this weekend in the country.

The suspect, a resident of Hyvinkaa, 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Helsinki, did not have a firearms permit. The two guns — a small-bore rifle and a hunting rifle — found nearby were legally registered, police said, but it was not clear how the shooter had acquired them.

After the shooting, the suspect fled the scene.

Police arrested him at 7:45 a.m. outside the town, about an hour after they received tips from the public that a man in camouflage fatigues was seen moving suspiciously in Hyvinkaa center.

Shootings are not uncommon in Finland, where there are 650,000 officially recognized gun owners in a population of 5.4 million people in a country with strong hunting traditions.

In recent years, Finland also has seen two deadly school shootings.

In 2008, a culinary student killed nine fellow students and a teacher before shooting himself at a vocational school in the western town of Kauhajoki.

A year earlier, an 18-year-old killed six fellow students, a nurse and the principal at a high school in Tuusula, southern Finland.

After those deadly attacks, authorities took steps to improve safety at schools, including installing surveillance cameras and locks on classroom doors and training staff to deal with shootings. Gun laws were also tightened.

Two months ago, a 23-year-old gunman wounded the father of his former girlfriend in an office building before firing several shots through a classroom door in southern Finland. No one was hurt at the junior high school, and the attacker quickly surrendered.

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