- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 12, 2009

WINNENDEN, Germany | A 17-year-old gunman dressed in black opened fire inside his former high school in southwestern Germany on Wednesday killing 15 people, 11 of them women and girls, before fatally turning the gun on himself, authorities said.

Police said the suspect’s father, a gun club member, owned 16 guns, one of which was missing.

The gunman entered the school in Winnenden at 9:33 a.m. after classes had begun and opened fire, shooting at random, police said. He killed nine students, three teachers and a passer-by outside the building, officials said. Two other people were killed later.

“He went into the school with a weapon and carried out a bloodbath,” said regional police Chief Erwin Hetger. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.”



Triggering a land and air manhunt, the gunman hijacked a car and forced the driver to head south, according to Stuttgart prosecutors, who are leading the investigation.

When the driver swerved off the road to avoid a police checkpoint, he managed to escape and the suspect, identified only as Tim K., ran into an industrial area in the town of Wendlingen with police in pursuit.

There he entered an auto dealership, shooting and killing a salesman and a customer, and then went back outside, prosecutors said.

“In front of the auto dealership the young man then opened fire toward the many police vehicles,” prosecutors said. “A gunbattle ensued between the 17-year-old and the many police involved in the pursuit of him. According to our current information, the 17-year-old then shot himself.”

Two police officers suffered serious but not life-threatening injuries.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the shooting “a horrific crime.”

Police said the suspect graduated last year from the school of about 1,000 students. No motive has been identified.

The death toll was close to that of Germany’s worst school shooting.

In the 2002, 19-year-old Robert Steinhaeuser fatally shot 12 teachers, a secretary, two students and a police officer before turning his gun on himself in the Gutenberg high school in Erfurt, in eastern Germany.

Mr. Steinhaeuser, who had been expelled for forging a doctor’s note, was a gun club member licensed to own weapons. The attack led Germany to raise the age for owning recreational firearms from 18 to 21.

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