Former student kills 16 in German school bloodbath

11th March 2009, Comments 0 comments

A German teenager went on a killing spree Wednesday morning, killing people at a school and later others before he was shot dead by police.

Winnenden -- A masked teenager in black combat gear went on a bloody rampage at his old school in Germany Wednesday, slaying at least 16 people before dying in a shootout with police, officials said.

The 17-year-old, named as Tim Kretschmer, entered the secondary school in Winnenden near Stuttgart at 9:30 am (0830 GMT), killing 10 pupils aged between 14 and 15 and three teachers in different classrooms with a handgun.

He wandered into several classrooms at the school he left last year, indiscriminately spraying bullets at teachers and students.

"He was constantly reloading his weapon," local police chief Konrad Gelden told reporters.

Police were alerted to the shootings within three minutes and dispatched two vehicles to the scene where they discovered the bodies of nine pupils and three teachers -- one of whom had only been working at the school for four weeks.

The 17-year-old then fled the Albertville-Realschule and went to a nearby psychiatric clinic where he shot dead a member of staff and stole a Volkswagen Sharan car. He then sped 40 kilometres (25 miles) to the town of Wendlingen.

By this time a massive manhunt was under way, with hundreds of armed police commandos and snipers in black body armour on his trail, assisted by helicopters and dogs.

"The whole time police were on his trail," Gelden said.

Cornered in the car park of a shopping centre, a shootout between the teenager and the police ensued, in which two passers-by were killed.

Kretschmer was also killed in the shootout at around midday local time, said the police. Two policemen were seriously injured in the fire-fight but they were in a stable condition in hospital.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her condolences to the families and friends of those killed in what she called a "horrendous crime."

"Like all people in Germany, I find what happened today in the Albertville-Realschule in Winnenden incomprehensible," Merkel said in a short statement. "It is a day of mourning for the whole of Germany. Our thoughts go out to the families, the friends. We are thinking of you and we are praying for you."

The killings drew international condemnation as well with European Commission president Jose-Manuel Barroso saying he was "appalled and saddened by the senseless violence that cut short so many lives."

The Bild daily said on its website that commandos had stormed the home of the teenager's parents, where 16 weapons were legally held -- one of which the teenager used in his rampage, police said.

Speaking to reporters, the interior minister of Baden-Wuerttemberg state said that there was nothing in the gunman's background to indicate that he had a grudge against the school.

"The gunman wanted to destroy an entire school," Heribert Rech said. "He was completely unremarkable, there was nothing in his background to suggest this could have happened."

The picturesque town of Winnenden, which lies around 25 kilometres (15 miles) northeast of the city of Stuttgart in Baden-Wuerttemberg, has around 27,000 inhabitants.

The school was part of a complex of several other schools with a total of 1,700 pupils aged from six to 19. At the school where the shooting took place there were 600 pupils.

It was one of the worst school shootings in Germany in recent years.

In April 2002, a disgruntled student from Erfurt in eastern Germany who had been expelled also killed 16 people before turning the gun on himself.

In November 2006, a former student at a vocational school in Lower Saxony in northwestern Germany went a shooting spree in the establishment, injuring 37 people before turning his gun on himself.

The latest shooting also came hours after a gunman went on the rampage in the southern US state of Alabama, mowing down 10 people before turning the gun on himself.

Recent school slayings worldwide:

The following are the worst mass killings in schools and universities around the world over the past five years.

The list does not include deaths resulting from guerrilla actions, such as the slaughter of 186 children and 146 adults at a school in Beslan, Russia in September 2004.

- March 11, 2009 - Germany - 10.

Nine pupils, three teachers and three passers-by are killed in a school shooting in southern Germany by a former pupil who is then shot dead by police.

- September, 2008 - Finland - 11.

Eleven people, including the gunman, die in a massacre at a training school at Kauhajoki, Finland.

- November 2007 - Finland: nine

An 18-year-old student opens fire in a school in southern Finland, killing five boys, two girls and the headmistress before turning his gun on himself.

- April 2007: United States: 33

A South Korean student kills 32 people on his campus at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. He then kills himself.

- March 2005 - United States: 10

A 16-year-old boy kills two people at his home in Minnesota, then goes to his school where he kills five fellow students, a teacher, a security guard and himself.

Gilles Laffon/AFP/Expatica

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