Viljandi school shooter remains unrepentant

Risto Berendson
, reporter
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Photo: Margus Ansu

By psychiatrists’ decision yesterday, the Viljandi school shooter Vahur will stand trial in court. Meanwhile, there is no desire in the youth to offer any public explanations.

Three months under arrest and thinking things over might suffice to arrive at some sort of clarity. Like mustering the strength to explain what happened. Behind Tartu prison bars, the Viljandi school shooter Vahur (15) received written plea by Postimees to explain what happened to the public, however briefly.

Long ago, the question is not about why the shooting happened. The issue is: what does he think in hindsight. What might have been otherwise?

«Answering is a chance to somehow relate to people in the context of the incident. To reveal your stand. Whether it be a desire to explain what happened, to ask for public understanding or, as befitting the Christian world, asking for forgiveness.»

Thus was written in letter to Vahur by Postimees as forwarded to lawyer Mihkel Gaver. Having read the letter, Vahur said a definite no.

«He does not desire to offer explanations nor to explain why he does not desire to do that. I support the decision and find this to be a rational decision in the longer perspective,» announced Mr Gaver having met Vahur on January 30th in the prison.

Technically, there is nothing complex to investigating the incident, considering the four students who were eyewitnesses to what happened German language class in Viljandi Paalalinna School, Viljandi on October 27th. They saw how Vahur, sitting in the first row, with no outward reason pulled a revolver out of his bag and, without warning, shot the teacher in the back as she was writing on the blackboard.

The teacher never saw the shooting. The first shot hit the blackboard, at which the teacher turned around surprised but fell at half turn. The shots that followed were better aimed. Having emptied the cylinder, while the frozen classmates watched on, Vahur reloaded and looked towards the others.

Whoever does anything now will share the same fate. The only direct threat from his lips that day. Agitated, the youth paced back and forth in front of the class for a couple of times and sat down. 

A moment later, a girl asked permission to leave the class as she felt sick. Vahur granted permission and, as she exited, locked the classroom door. Thereafter, he sent a girlfriend an SMS confirming the murder of the teacher and waited. The rest is public knowledge.

While unaware of the exact initial statements by Vahur, the reason he shot the teacher Ene Sarap can still be answered today. As far as the teacher was concerned, she had not much trouble with Vahur who had satisfactory and good grades in German. The boy had indeed approached her regarding some grades, but Ene Sarap, known for her strictness, did not yield.

Allegedly, Vahur was punished by father at home for bad grades. They are talking about walking the ten kilometres home etc. Therefore, the boy took teacher’s strictness personally. When Vahur’s elder brother was asked to help him with his German studies, Vahur declined explaining it made no difference.

Thus, the plan may have arisen in Vahur’s head to solve the problem his own way – fatally. A week before the act, he promised his closer friends to kill Ms Sarap. Back then, no-one took it serious as Vahur was known as a quiet and closed boy.

The moment of truth arrived on the first school-day after the week-long holiday. Vahur had stolen his father’s revolver, in the weapons safe at home. When asked during the break at school what lesson Vahur was waiting for the most, the lad replied: German.

For the occasion, he had intentionally left the German books at home. If hoping therewith to provoke a conflict with the teacher, things went otherwise. Ms Sarap rather proceeded to ask what everybody had been doing over the holiday. The atmosphere was fun and easygoing. The class was nearing its end and then it happened.

«I am sorry.» Something like that was uttered by Vahur the same night, at the initial conversation with the police. The official interrogation was to take place a day later.

That, however, was cancelled. Overnight, a lad outwardly clear in his thinking had turned into a little fellow biting at his mattress and talking about obsessions. Voices in his head, he said, had compelled him to kill the teacher – a talk not believed by the experienced investigators. For that, the crime had been planned too long in advance.

Still, the mental health of the youth required thorough analysis. The three-month psychiatric analysis was rather the extreme. But once it was over, complex analysis by University of Tartu experts arrived at the following: Vahur’s health condition allowed him to comprehend what was happening.

The investigations of Paalalinna School shooting are hoped to be concluded by spring.

Family in shock

Four days after the incident, via Viljandi city government the family of the shooter issued a public statement:

«Our family is in shock. What happened on Monday is incomprehensible and very tragic. Our whole family extends condolences to those closest to teacher Ene Sarap.

«At the moment, all we can ask for is understanding and that we would be allowed to deal in peace with the pain of our soul while seeking an answer to why? Vahur’s family.»