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Virginia Tech school massacre echoes in Finland

The young man who shot eight people dead and then himself in a high school in Finland was a social outcast who was bullied in schoo. Investigators say that the student picked his victims randomly l but appears to have picked his victims randomly, a senior police official said Thursday. The situation bears a striking resemblance to the Virginia Tech massacre, when South Korean student Seung-Hui Cho killed 33 students.

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"You can say that the motive is still open," Detective Superintendent Tero Haapala told The Associated Press. "But the explanation can be found mainly in his Web writings and his social behavior."

Investigators believe the killer, identified as 18-year-old Pekka-Eric Auvinen, revealed plans for the attack in postings on YouTube in which he urges revolution and grins after taking target practice.

Police said Auvinen killed eight people before turning the gun on himself in a shooting rampage Wednesday at Jokela High School in Tuusula, some 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of the capital, Helsinki.

Police initially said the victims were seven students and the school principal, but Haapala said Thursday that the school nurse was among those killed.

He said Auvinen appeared to have selected his victims at random.

"There's nothing that links him with the victims except that they attended the same school," Haapala said.

Auvinen shot the victims with a .22-caliber pistol, police said, adding about a dozen other people were injured as they tried to escape from the school.

The gunman then shot himself in the head, and died hours later at a hospital.

Witnesses described a scene of mayhem in the leafy lakeside community, in which the assailant scoured the school for victims while shouting slogans of "revolution."

On Thursday, grieving students placed candles outside the school, which was still roped off by police tape as forensic experts sought to reconstruct the shooting spree that sent panicked students and teachers fleeing for their lives.

Thursday was declared a day of mourning in Finland, which is unaccustomed to deadly shootings although it has a high rate of gun ownership.

Memorial services were planned across Finland including in Tuusula, where a church was turned into a crisis center with experts on hand to comfort grieving residents. Flags were flying at half staff across the nation.

Police chief Matti Tohkanen said Auvinen belonged to a gun club and got a license for the pistol on Oct. 19. He did not have a previous criminal record and "was from an ordinary family," Tohkanen said.

More than 400 students aged 12-18 were enrolled at the school, officials said.

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