Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Germany School Shooting: 16 Dead

A gunman killed at least 15 people when he opened fire at a junior high school in southwest Germany on Wednesday, March 11, 2009, police told the media. Nine students, three teachers, a school gardener, two bystanders at a supermarket and the shooter are among the dead. Most were females.

The German newspaper Bild report that German police have released the name of the 17-year-old who carried out the shooting attacks. He was Tim Kretschmer. He graduated from secondary school in Germany last year.

"We have at least nine dead and numerous wounded," a police spokeswoman reported to Reuters. This was later updated to 15, including the teenager student shooter.

The gunman, wearing black combat gear, fled the scene of the shooting spree in Winnenden, a town of 27,000 near Stuttgart in Baden-Wuerttemberg state. German media reports say as many as nine may have been shot dead. It is unclear how many were pupils, in the incident, which is reported to have begun around 0945 (0845 GMT).

A number of people are also thought to have been wounded in the incident at the Albertville-Realschule school in Winnenden, north of Stuttgart, earlier reported the BCC

The Web site of German broadcaster ZDF explains that the name of the school, the Albertville-Realschule, is related to the fact that the town of Winnenden in Baden-Württemberg is twinned with the French city of Albertville, which hosted the Winter Olympics in 1992.

Helicopters were circling above the town, police said. Rescue workers and fire fighters were at the school, which had been evacuated.

Police said the gunman was a 17-year-old former student dressed in military gear.

According to Welt Online, a shoot out between the gunman and police officers ensued in a grocery store, during which the gunman was killed. Two other people also died during the shootout, which left two police officers seriously wounded, it said.

According to Spiegel, the German newspaper Bild has reported that the teenage gunman’s parents were in the possession of 18 weapons and that his father is a “wealthy entrepreneur.” Spiegel Online says that “Special units of the police stormed the house of Tim K’s parents, his mother was interrogated by the police.”

The English-language Web site of the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports that the gunman was killed during a shoot-out with police:

Stuttgart police said the 17-year-old black-clad gunman was killed 40 kilometers away from his former school where he opened fire in a classroom.

The gunman is reported to have fled in a car to the neighboring town of Wendlingen. Police said the gunman was killed in a shootout with the police near a supermarket. Authorities say the total death toll has risen to 16.

(March 11th is the fifth anniversary of the Madrid, Spain, train bombings.)

Several school shootings have shocked Germany in past years.

In 2006, a masked man wearing explosives and brandishing rifles opened fire at a school in the western German town of Emsdetten, wounding at least 11 people before committing suicide.

In April 2002, Germany suffered its worst school shooting when a gunman killed 17 people, including himself, at a high school in the eastern city of Erfurt. Wednesday's shooting occurred after news that in the United States, at least a dozen, including the suspected gunman and his mother, were killed in a shooting spree and car chase in southern Alabama on Tuesday, March 10, 2009, noted Reuters

Readers of this blog will be aware of the cycles that occur and some of the key windows of dates to be aware of, across the board.

April 26th is Hitler's right hand man, Rudolf Hess's birthday and the anniversary of the Erfurt, Germany school shooting in 2002. An expelled student Robert Steinhäuser calmly walked into the school, dressed in black and a trenchcoat, targeted specific teachers and perhaps randomly killed students, then turned his gun on himself. All in all, 18 died.

The November 20, 2006 incident at the Geschwister Scholl secondary school in Emsdetten, near the city of Münster, involved former student Sebastian Bosse, who wounded 37 before killing himself. He was wearing a long black coat and a gas mask. His nickname at the school was "Man in Black" because he always wore black. After the attack, a total of 13 pipe bombs were found distributed around the school and in his car. Soon afterward, 3,700 police officers were deployed in Baden-Württemberg's schools because of a December 6, 2006, copycat threat to carry out a "killing spree" in the schools. Later, the "anonymous person" who sent the "killing spree" threat was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

March and April have become the "copycat" months for these shootings, with a less significant peak in the fall.

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