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Sword-Wielding Man Kills 2, Injures Others At Swedish School

Swedish police secure the area outside a primary and middle school in Trollhattan in southwestern Sweden, where a masked man armed with a sword killed one teacher and injured several other people before being shot and arrested by police.
AFP/Getty Images
Swedish police secure the area outside a primary and middle school in Trollhattan in southwestern Sweden, where a masked man armed with a sword killed one teacher and injured several other people before being shot and arrested by police.

A teacher and a student have died and three other people are seriously wounded in southern Sweden, where a masked man armed with a sword or knife attacked a school Thursday. The attacker was shot by police and died later at a regional hospital.

A second teacher and two students — ages 17 and 15 — underwent surgery after suffering severe injuries, according to the NAL hospital in Trollhättan, where the attacks happened Thursday morning. The hospital initially reported the 17-year-old's age as 11. One of those students died at the hospital.

The remaining two victims are in intensive care, according to the hospital, which adds that one of them is in critical condition.

Hours after the attack, a chilling photo emerged, taken by a student who says her classmates posed for a snapshot with the attacker moments before the violence began. It shows a man in a black helmet and mask, wearing what looks to be military-style clothing with a long black overcoat. He's holding a sword against his shoulder.

The student who took the photo tells Swedish news outlet Aftonbladet that she and her friends thought the costume might have been related to Halloween. Her classmates posed next to the man for the photo, she said, adding that the attack began after a teacher then told the man to leave.

Update at 11 a.m. ET: Attacker Dies At Hospital

After being shot in the chest, the attacker was taken to the same hospital as his victims. He died later Thursday after receiving treatment, police say.

Providing more details about the attack at a news conference, officials said that the attacker, a 21-year-old resident of Trollhättan, had knocked on doors at the school and stabbed people who opened them.

Update at 8:30 a.m. ET: Student Has Reportedly Died

One of the two boys who were wounded in the attack has died, according to Expressen reporter Carl Fridh Kleberg, citing local police.

The NAL hospital says one of the patients has been stabilized and is now in the intensive care unit; the rest remain in critical condition.

Our original post continues:

There have been conflicting reports about the type of weapon the attacker used. "Police spokesman Stefan Gustafsson said the attacker was in his twenties and used 'several knife-like objects,' " according to Swedish news site The Local.

The attack took place around 10 a.m. local time in or near the cafeteria of the Kronan school, a primary school that's situated in a cultural center. The building also includes a library.

"Around 400 pupils are understood to be taught at the school, aged between six and fifteen," The Local reports.

According to Swedish media cited by the AP, the deadly attack came shortly after a discussion about "teachers' worries that the school was too open, with a cafe for adults that meant the school could not control who comes in." The report adds that the school has its own cafeteria — but that the students had to walk through the public cafe to reach it.

The attack set off chaos at the school, with a large police and emergency response. Photos from the scene show that one ambulance crashed into a wall in the parking area next to the cafe's entrance.

A teenager who attends the school and witnessed part of the attack described the scene to The Local:

"I was in a classroom with my class when one of my classmates' sisters called her to warn her that there was a murderer at the school. So we locked the door to the classroom, but our teacher was still outside in the corridor.

"We wanted to warn him, so a few of us went outside and then I saw the murderer, he was wearing a mask and had a sword. Our teacher got stabbed.

"The murderer started chasing me, I ran into another classroom. If I had not run, I would have been murdered. I'm feeling really scared. Everyone's scared here."

Responding to news of the attack, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven expressed his condolences for the victims and their families, saying, "This is a black day for Sweden."

The BBC reports, "School attacks are rare in Sweden — this is the first since a shooting at a school in Kungalv near Gothenburg in 1961 which killed one person and injured six others."

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.

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