Months before he went on a shooting rampage inside a Finnish high school, killing eight people before eventually turning his gun on himself, 18-year-old student Pekka-Eric Auvinen exchanged e-mails with an American teen who'd been arrested last month for planning a similar, Columbine-like scheme at his own school, CNN reports.
The disturbing development came less than a week after Auvinen's killing spree. He died several hours after the attack from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
According to CNN, J. David Farrell, the attorney for 14-year-old Dillon Cossey, claims his client had been in contact with Auvinen within two months of Cossey's October arrest. Cossey was arrested for plotting an attack at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School, located just outside Philadelphia. Farrell told CNN that Cossey and Auvinen talked via e-mail, but that "there was no talk of criminal intent. ... They did not talk about how to carry out a plot at all." He added that his client was "shocked" by Auvinen's actions last week and that the two met on a MySpace page dedicated to the memory of Columbine shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.
Bruce Castor, the district attorney for Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, told CNN that he'd spoken to Farrell about the link to the Finland killings and will investigate the matter. He also said he does not anticipate any further charges will be leveled against Cossey because of his online friendship.
Detective Chief Superintendent Jan Nyhom of the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation refused to confirm or deny the link but assured reporters that detectives "are going to look closely at all IT material, and we are following up all that is relevant to this situation. There are many things being reported in the media that are not true."
Last month, Cossey was charged with unlawful transfer of a firearm, possession of a firearm by a minor, corruption of a minor, endangering the welfare of a child and two counts of reckless endangerment. When officers searched the Cossey home, they unearthed a rifle, about 30 air-powered guns, swords, knives, grenades, a bomb-making book and videos of the Columbine attack. In addition, his mother, 46-year-old Michele Cossey, has been indicted on six counts of providing firearms and bomb-making equipment to her son.
Auvinen acted alone and had no previous history of criminal behavior. He had never threatened anyone at his school before the shooting, which is believed to be the first of its kind in Finland's history. Before the attack, Auvinen left several cryptic videos on YouTube, detailing how he would carry out his deadly plan. He had also posted clips of Hitler and tributes to cannibalistic serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, the Columbine killers, the BTK killer and the Unabomber. Other videos showed Auvinen testing out his gun, which he had named Catherine, and some outlined the killer's beliefs, under the title "Natural Selector's Manifesto," which demanded war on the "weak-minded masses" and in which the shooter pledged to die for his cause.
On a more positive note, students at a primary school near Jokela High School, the Finnish school where the Auvinen rampage took place, returned to classes Monday (November 12). Other students met for classes at a local church.
Around 81 percent of school attackers tell someone of their plans beforehand. If someone mentions or threatens to use violence against you or anyone else, don't be afraid to speak up. You can contact a parent, school administrator or law-enforcement agent for advice, or if you would like to take action anonymously, you can call Speak Up at (866) SPEAK-UP (866-773-2587). Speak Up is a national toll-free hotline for students to report threats of violence at school and feature both English- and Spanish-speaking operators. After talking with you, they can work with your school and local officials to evaluate the situation and act accordingly on the potential threat. Go here for more information on this service.