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  • Writer's pictureastrid v.j.

Even in Sweden, Death Walks School Corridors

The Last Vasa series: Insight and Inspiration

When we think of vicious school attacks, most of us think of the USA because of the high-profile school shootings that rip the country apart on far too regular occasions. However, other countries, Sweden included, have not been spared.

Photograph of Malmö Latinskola, a classic 19th century building with stone walls painted yellow and arched windows. On a banner, the title of this blog post: Death Walks in School Halls. The Last Vasa series coat of arms featuring a fasces bundle of sticks and a stylized bear on either side

On the evening of March 21, 2022, Malmö became the scene of the second most brutal school attack to occur in this country, one which led to a precedent being set during the court case. It is the first time such a young criminal has ever been sentenced to life imprisonment in Sweden. Thankfully—if one can state gratefulness in the face of the horrors perpetrated—that boy was unable to get his hands on a firearm. I shudder to think what might have happened if he had.

Nonetheless, armed “only” with a hatchet and a hammer, Fabian Cederholm did enough damage to kill two teachers and destroy a city’s faith in humanity. As a mother of children on the brink of starting school, I was severely shaken, and turning to my writing has helped me come to grips with what happened that day and how it changes my feelings about my children’s safety at school. Writing Milena’s Fear, the short prequel to The Last Vasa series has proven quite cathartic and now serves yet another purpose for good.

Fellow writer, Pam Floyd, who worked on Children of War, the charity anthology I put together in support of Ukrainian children suffering war trauma, is in the process of organizing a charity anthology to benefit Sandy Hook Promise, an organisation focused on supporting the victims of school shootings in the United States. Originally, I had thought of merely mentioning the Malmö school attack in passing in the Last Vasa series, but when I found out about this initiative, I decided it would be even better to embrace the opportunity to engage with what happened and use my writing to truly overcome my own personal fears and to understand what happened at a deeper level.

As it turns out, the facts are more unbelievable than any fiction I could have come up with. Here follows a brief account of the sequence of events surrounding the attack:

On 21 March, 2022, Mikael Nilsson, a renown Swedish lawyer held a presentation about crime and punishment in Sweden at the Latinskola in Malmö. The lecture ended a few minutes before 5pm and police investigation confirms the attacker attended the event.

At 5:12pm emergency services received a phone call informing of a school attack on the third floor of Latinskola where two teachers in their fifties were mortally wounded.

At 5:22pm the police took into custody Fabian Cederholm, the perpetrator who had not only turned himself in, but claimed in the immediate statement taken at the scene of the crime that he’d hoped to be shot during the arrest, to prove Swedish police violence on par with the United States.

Inspector David Malmsten, an African-Swede, was one of the first respondents and participated in the arrest. He was also later interviewed on Swedish television where he commented on the sheer brutality of the attack.

At 8pm all students who had been on the premises during the attack were permitted to return home. Several drama students who’d been preparing the annual spex performance were interviewed on television. One of them reported having been kept in a classroom on the second floor until the building was cleared and statements taken.

Both victims of the attack passed away in hospital.

During the trial, a seventeen-year-old girl stood as witness. She’d been in the bathroom on the third floor and upon hearing screaming, she stepped out to see what was happening. According to her testimony, she returned to the toilets and locked herself in a cubicle together with a friend who didn’t witness anything.

Fabian Cederholm is the first 18-year-old Swedish criminal to be convicted to a life sentence. He earned two life sentences for the brutal murders by hatchet and hammer of his teachers.

If you’d like to find out more about how this incident has found its way into my short story, Milena’s Fear, you can sign up to my newsletter. The November edition will include a snippet of the story and an opportunity to support me either as a beta reader or as an advance reviewer for the anthology. As a newsletter subscriber, you’ll also be the first to know about developments for this series, including when books will be available for pre-order.

If you’re interested in the charity projects I champion, you are welcome to add yourself to this mailing list. I send out information only twice per year regarding upcoming charity projects I’m working on. Subscribers on this list are given the opportunity to sign up to review teams for each anthology and get updates on which projects you can expect to see in upcoming years.

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