Merkel expresses shock on death of 16 in German school shooting


Winnenden (Germany) : German Chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed her “deep shock and horror” at the incident in which a former pupil shot dead 15 people in a shooting spree at a school in southwest Germany Wednesday, before killing himself.

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The 17-year-old gunman, identified as Tim K., shot dead nine students and three female teachers at his former school in Winnenden, near Stuttgart, in one of the worst incidents of its kind in Germany.

German President Horst Koehler sent his condolences after Wednesday’s shooting while Merkel expressed her “deep shock and horror” at the killings.

The police said the youth also killed an employee at a nearby psychiatric clinic when he fled the scene.

He then hijacked a car, forcing its owner to drive him to the town of Wendlingen, 40 km away.

There, police cornered him at a car dealership. The gunman shot dead a car salesman and a client and injured two policemen in a shootout.

A police bullet hit the youth in the leg, before he turned the gun on himself.

The shooting happened hours after at least 11 people were killed in a similar shooting spree in the US state of Alabama Tuesday.

The German teenager, who was wearing a black combat uniform, was apparently armed with a pistol when he walked into the Albertville secondary school at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.

He went into three classrooms where police say he aimed shots directly at the victims’ heads.

A police spokesman said it was obvious the first pupils to be killed were “completely taken by surprise”, adding that some of them “were still holding their pens in their hands”.

All but one of the victims were female. The gunman, who was a pupil at the school until 2007, targeted classes in the year below him, the police said.

“A voice called out, ‘Achtung, there’s someone running amok. Call a doctor’,” a young pupil told a television news channel.

Within minutes of the first emergency call from a pupil’s mobile phone, two police officers arrived at the school.

They glimpsed the youth, who fired a shot at them before fleeing the building. He gunned down two teachers on his way out. He had already killed a third teacher in her classroom.

The youth left behind a large number of unfired ammunition rounds as he fled, suggesting that he “possibly intended to do much more than he carried out”, police told a press conference.

While the police said the attack was clearly premeditated, they said his actions after leaving the school were “no longer planned, no longer structured”.

The dead students were all aged between 14 and 16. Seven other pupils were injured in the attack, the motive for which was not clear.

The gunman was reported to be the son of a local businessman who possessed a weapons licence and owned 15 firearms, 14 of which were secured in a safe. The police said one weapon was kept in the parents’ bedroom.

This gun, as well as more than 100 rounds of ammunition, were missing when police searched the family home where the youth lived with his parents.

The police sealed off the school and the town centre of Winnenden, 25 km northeast of Stuttgart.

Many of the pupils remained in the school building for four hours until news of the gunman’s death was confirmed.

Officials immediately began providing counselling to the distraught students and parents.

Germany’s worst school shooting occurred in 2002, when a 19-year-old high school student went on a rampage in Erfurt, killing 12 teachers, two students, a school secretary and a policeman before killing himself.