Moment of silence for German victims of school bloodbath

18th March 2009, Comments 0 comments

The silence will express "our incomprehension and our grief," said state leader Guenther Oettinger, as three more victims of 17-year-old Tim Kretschmer's bloody rampage through his former school were buried Tuesday.

Berlin -- The parliament and schools in the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg will observe a minute's silence Wednesday for the victims of last week's massacre in which 16 people died, officials said.

The silence will express "our incomprehension and our grief," said state leader Guenther Oettinger, as three more victims of 17-year-old Tim Kretschmer's bloody rampage through his former school were buried Tuesday.

Meanwhile, some 600 survivors from the Albertville secondary school in the southwestern town of Winnenden where nine students and three teachers were gunned down are set to resume lessons next week, the region's director of schools, Wolfgang Schiele, said.

The teenagers will not, however, return to their old classrooms, which are still being examined by forensic experts, Schiele said.

He added that optional classes including psychological treatment have been laid on for the survivors for the past two days.

Dressed in black combat gear, Kretschmer shot dead eight girls, one boy and three female teachers at the school, killed a passer-by outside a psychiatric clinic where he had been due to receive treatment, hijacked a car and shot two others at a car dealership.

He died in a shootout with police around 30 kilometres (20 miles) from the school. Police believe he shot himself.

A memorial service for the victims, attended by Chancellor Angela Merkel, is planned for Saturday.

Since the carnage, there have been 52 threats to carry out similar acts in Baden-Wuerttemberg alone, resulting in five arrests, German television station NTV reported.

The latest involved a 17-year-old from Ehingen, 50 kilometres (30 miles) away from the scene of the crime, who posted pictures of himself on the Internet carrying a pistol and threatened a similar act, police said Tuesday.

The boy, since taken into psychiatric care, was found to have a airgun as well as violent computer games at his house.

The investigation into Wednesday's shooting continues, with police seizing the computer of Kretschmer's mother, Baden-Wuerttemberg's interior minister Heribert Rech said Tuesday.

German prosecutors Monday launched a formal probe into Kretschmer's businessman father who legally kept more than a dozen weapons at his house, one of which -- a 9mm Beretta pistol -- was used to deadly effect by his son.

Officials said they had launched the investigation because the father had kept the gun in his bedroom -- the others were locked up -- despite indications that he knew his son to be suffering from depression.

Meanwhile, the gunman’s family apologised to his victims and their families in a letter published on Tuesday.

"The appalling and incomprehensible act of our son and brother took away from you the most valuable and most important thing of all, a loved one," the open letter released by the Kretschmer family's lawyer said. "We are always asking ourselves, again and again, how this could happen. How can we not have noticed his distress and his hate? Until this happened we too were a completely normal family. We never thought Tim was capable of something like this."

They added: "We are devastated, and this unfathomable tragedy leaves us in tears and lost for words. Our deepest sympathies go out to the victims, their families and their friends. All our thoughts are also with those with physical and mental wounds."

AFP/Expatica

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