'A dark day' for Sweden
A man in costume posed for a photo with students before he pulled out a knife and attacked a teacher and students at a school in western Sweden. “We thought it was a Halloween joke. He was completely dressed in black and had the Star Wars mask,” remarked a student, who said the attacker posed with students for a photo before he attacked.

One teacher and an 11-year-old boy died after being stabbed in their stomachs at a school in Trollhättan, Sweden on Oct. 22. The killer was eventually stopped by a police bullet, and was taken to the hospital with several victims. Two others were seriously injured and the attacker was confirmed dead that afternoon. A motive hasn't been determined.

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This uptick in violence — of any kind — has been observed in Sweden’s schools since 1990, but between 2012 and 2014 there was an almost 40 percent increase in the reports of violent behavior, according to the Swedish Work Environment Authority. Given that information, and the school shootings in the U.S. and in nearby England, France and Finland in recent years, along with the 2011 Norway attacks at a children’s summer camp, Swedish officials announced in June 2014 that all school personnel would receive training to handle violence and weapons.

Sweden, a country that has had two school shootings — in 1961 and 2001 — does not have a concealed handgun law. Citizens are only allowed to carry firearms for hunting or when going to a firing range.

In the case of the Trollhättan tragedy, which has been described by Swedish daily newspaper Aftonbladet here in English, it wasn’t “a school shooting on the pattern of the United States, but close enough — an act of madness with knives. We have been waiting for this,” said criminologist Jerzy Sarnecki, referring to the increasing number of threats about plans to attack schools.

This is likely a turning point for Sweden, and time will tell what steps are taken to try to prevent this form of violence from happening again. In the meantime, the country is shocked and mourning, and help is being offered to students throughout all of Sweden.

Updated Oct. 23, 2015: It has been confirmed that the Trollhättan tragedy was a hate crime, an act of terrorism bigger than Sweden has seen since 1940 when five people were killed in an attack against a communist newspaper. Yesterday’s attacker chose his victims based on their skin color. And now, in a time when Sweden is in conflict over welcoming an unprecedented number of refugees to its once peaceful country, citizens have an understanding that it’ll likely be far fewer than 75 years before the next act of terrorism is committed.