Finnish school shooter, Pa. teen linked
Chatted online about massacre at Columbine
PHILADELPHIA - A teenager who admitted plotting a school attack near Philadelphia had chatted online about the Columbine massacre with a teenage outcast who killed eight people and himself in a high school shooting in Finland, the Pennsylvania boy's lawyer said yesterday.
But the American teen was "horrified" when he found out about the attack and said he never thought the Finnish youth would have followed through on a violent act, the lawyer said.
Finnish police said material seized from the computer of Pekka-Eric Auvinen suggests that the 18-year-old had communicated online with Dillon Cossey, 14, who was arrested in October for allegedly preparing an attack at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School in suburban Philadelphia.
Cossey's lawyer, J. David Farrell, said he showed Auvinen's online screen name to his client yesterday and Cossey remembered communicating with the Finn about video games and the 1999 Columbine massacre in Colorado, and exchanging videos they found on the Internet.
"They had discussed certain video games and shared videos with each other," Farrell said. "Obviously, Columbine was a shared topic of interest."
Auvinen killed six students, a nurse, and the principal Wednesday in Tuusula, about 30 miles north of the capital, Helsinki. He then shot himself in the head and died hours later at a hospital.
Police in Finland said they had not yet been in contact with their US counterparts about a possible link between the two teens.
In Pennsylvania, detectives were running the name of the Finnish shooter through the computer seized from Cossey, who admitted in juvenile court to planning an attack.
"We had heard when we first got this guy that he had contacted other people through websites," Plymouth Township Deputy Chief Joe Lawrence said. "We wouldn't be shocked by it."
Tipped off by a boy Cossey tried to recruit, Pennsylvania authorities searched his home last month. They found a rifle, about 30 air-powered guns modeled to look like higher-powered weapons, swords, knives, a bomb-making book, videos of the 1999 Columbine attack, and violence-filled notebooks.
Finnish investigators have said that Auvinen left a suicide note for his family and foreshadowed the attack in YouTube postings. Yesterday, Rabbe von Hertzen, a detective in the case, said Auvinen is believed to have written the suicide note on Nov. 5, suggesting that he had planned the attacks for at least two days.
Police have described Auvinen as a bullied teenage outcast consumed with anger against society.
Cossey told a friend that he wanted to pull off an attack similar to Columbine. Prosecutors and Farrell have said he felt bullied.
Two weeks after his arrest, Cossey admitted in Montgomery County juvenile court to three felonies - criminal solicitation, risking a catastrophe, and possession of an instrument of crime. He is now in juvenile custody.