COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A knife-wielding masked man stabbed four people Thursday at a school in southern Sweden, killing one teacher and a student before being shot by police, authorities said. One student said he thought the attacker was in a Halloween costume.
Students fled from the Kronan school in Trollhattan, near Goteborg, Sweden’s second-largest city, as the attack took place in a nearby cafe just after 10 a.m., police said. The school has 400 students, ranging from pre-school to high school.
Police arrived to find one male teacher already dead and two male students and another male teacher seriously wounded, police spokesman Thomas Fuxborg told The Associated Press. One of the students died later at the hospital.
Police fired two shots, one of which hit the attacker, a 21-year-old man from Trollhattan, Fuxborg said. The attacker’s motive was not known, he added.
The attacker had at least one large knife and possibly two, including what may have been a sword, another police spokesman, Stefan Gustavsson, told the AP. He said authorities knew the attacker had killed the teacher “because of the wounds he had.”
Investigators declined to be more specific about the weapons used. A police press conference was scheduled for later Thursday.
Laith Alazze, a 14 year-old student at Kronan, said at first he thought the attacker — who was clad in black with a mask — had something to do with Halloween.
“One of my friends walked over to him to challenge him, but when we saw he stabbed him (the teacher), we ran away,” Alazze told Sweden’s TV4.
The three wounded underwent surgery later Thursday at the Norra Alvsborgs Lanssjukhus hospital. Dr. Lars Spetz told reporters the one teacher had been stabbed in the abdomen while the two students — boys aged 11 and 15 — were stabbed in the abdomen, liver and chest.
“They hover between life and death,” Spetz said.
Police spokeswoman Maria Randsalu said the second victim was a male student, but did not say which one.
The attacker, who was also at the hospital, had gunshot wounds to his lower chest, Spetz said.
Swedish media said the school held a meeting Thursday morning to discuss teachers’ fears that the school was too open. The Dagens Nyheter newspaper said students must go through a public cafe to reach the school’s cafeteria and other parts of the building.
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, who headed to the scene, described Thursday as a “black day.”
“My thoughts go out to the victims and their families, the students and staff, and the whole community that has been affected,” Lofven said. “No words can describe what they are going through right now.”