All were having lots of fun and then came the shock...

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Photo: Margus Ansu

On the face of it, nothing foreboding at the German lesson this Monday at Paalalinna School in Viljandi. A teacher for decades, Ene Sarap was obviously in a good mood, asking the kids about their holidays. «All were having lots of fun,» the school shooter Vahur (15) said afterwards.

Twenty-some minutes into the class, Vahur unexpectedly arose and stretched out his hand. To the shock of the four other students and Ms Sarap standing at the blackboard, the hand held a six-shot Rossi revolver. 

The boy aimed at the teacher and pulled the trigger. The first shots hit the teacher. As the victim collapsed, the bullets that followed crashed into the blackboard on the wall.

At the English lesson in class next door, the first shots were thought to be sounds from a nearby construction site. But as the bullets struck the wall, they locked the classroom doors – just in case.

Startled, all fell silent. Having emptied the gun, the boy reloaded. No more shots, however. The victim was dead. No other such planned by Vahur.

In the dead silence of the class where no-one as much as squeaked, the shooter – taken aback himself – laid the revolver on the table and set in to await his fate. The rest is public knowledge.

Why the attack? If the testimony by Vahur over the interrogation lasting for several hours be believed, the teenage lad felt Ms Sarap was too strict with him as compared to the others.

That may have been so as the boy was not doing that well in German. The antipathy was not fresh in the making, but had developed over the years and was birthed by repeated arguments. The teacher always emerging as the obvious winner, Vahur may have felt humbled inside.

Best summing up the verbal confrontations between student and teacher, a schoolmate told the police right after the event that the arguments and debated between the two had already become a daily thing.

Though the boy felt put down, he never told the school leadership or his parents – taking it all in. Thus, Ms Sarap never guessed she had thus deeply offended the young man.

Rather, the teacher had other problem-kids in the school. While sharing her troubles with fellow teachers, she always made mention of other names. Therefore, the school leadership was totally unaware of the conflict. «It is the first time I hear about it, via you,» said Aavo Palo, the headmaster. «The teacher never came to me about it.»

That’s likely. The boy guessed telling the parents would be no solution, and decided to «solve» the problem in his own way, guided by his military interests. To that end, he had sought out where the gun safe keys were hidden at home; secretly, he took the revolver and went on to do what this Monday shocked the entire nation.

Perhaps, the inner world of the extreme-behaving lad might be somewhat opened up by his father, seemingly close to the boy. Still, the father categorically declined the option.

«If you have questions, turn to Viljandi city council; I am communicating regarding this with my advisers and investigators,» he said. «Thank you for being concerned for our family, but this is all I am telling you.»

The strict kind of father is not known for such low profile. By various sources, Postimees has been told that the reason the springtime police raid with knife found was freshly discussed at the school in the autumn was at Vahur’s father’s initiative. 

The father was accusing the police because, as alleged by his son, the police was impolite while doing the raid and never introduced themselves. The father was of the opinion that the kids’ schoolbags are not supposed to be searched at all by the police.

At the parental council meeting, the day before the police was addressed, there was a heated debate and the other parents tried to make the outspoken father see the police have their rules and are right.

«He held his ground, accused the police and defended his son,» recalls a parent, participating in the meeting just before the school holidays. Vahur’s father is characterised as a man who is always sure he is right.

In this family, people say, what he says goes. Outside the home, the father is active – up to this week, he was at parental councils in both schools attended by the younger ones of the family’s four children – both Paalalinna School and the Viljandi (State) Gymnasium. At the latter, he was the chairman.