Law enforcement officials in the southern Finland town of Porvoo said on Monday that they had taken a man into custody after he reportedly stabbed his three-year old in a local park. Police confirmed in a statement that the victim died in hospital.
According to police, officers were called to a playground near the Porvoo Lyseo, the Swedish-language upper secondary school at just before 8.00 am, where onlookers reported a violent crime in progress.
A man, later identified as the child's father, had apparently taken the child from his home without permission and taken the infant to the playground near the school. For reasons as yet unknown, the father then began his assault on the child, police said in a statement.
Inspector Jyri Hiltunen of the local police told Yle that police suspect that the child had been stabbed. "The father is the suspect," Hiltunen added.
Story continues after photo.
When police arrived on the scene at about 8.05 am, they used forced to intervene in the attack and remove the suspect from the scene. He is now in police custody. Officials said later that the man is French and that he would be questioned on Tuesday.
In a separate statement issued Monday, police confirmed that the weapon used in the attack was a knife.
The victim, a three-year old child, was rushed to hospital, but died.
Police are investigating the crime as a case of homicide or attempted homicide for the moment. Officers say they are continuing investigations by interviewing the suspect as well as eyewitnesses.
Crisis counselling for eyewitnesses, nearby students
Porvoo city lead social worker Krista Lyyra said that the office had been receiving calls from across the country.
"People are shocked, incredulous and angry. It involves a small child as the victim. It goes so much against our sense of justice that it inspires strong feelings. People’s sympathies are with the child’s mother," she said.
Crisis counselling has also been offered to eyewitnesses at the scene of the gruesome incident.
"Usually eyewitnesses think about what they should have done. Now, because the police were on the scene so quickly, people didn’t have those thoughts. No one could have helped or prevented [it]. Everyone did what they could," she noted.
Lyyra pointed out that it is healthy and normal that this morning’s tragic events will generate powerful emotions.
"Reactions can even be physical. People can get headaches, nausea or chills if they feel that for some reason this strikes close to home," she added.
Social workers have also reached out to nearby schools, where school counsellors, nurses and psychologists have been on standby to discuss the event with their students.
Edit: Headline updated at 11.39 to reflect that the father is the main suspect in the stabbing incident and has been detained by police.
Edit: Updated at 3.22pm to include comments froma local social worker and an image of a makeshift memorial .
Edit: Updated at 3.49pm to indicate that the suspect is a French national.