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Teen Gunman Massacres 15 at School in Germany

Published: March 13, 2009 (Issue # 1456)



  • Students mourn at the Albertville-Realschule school in Winnenden where a gunman killed 15 people on Wednesday.
    Photo: Reuters

WAIBLINGEN, Germany — The 17-year-old gunman who went on a rampage at his former school and killed 15 people before taking his own life warned of his plans in an Internet chatroom only hours before, officials said Thursday.

Suspect Tim K. told others in the chat room that he was “sick of this life” and planned to attack his school in Winnenden, Baden Wuerttemburg state Interior Minister Heribert Rech said.

Rech said the suspect wrote, “You will hear from me tomorrow, remember the name of a place called Winnenden.”

In the first indication of a motive in the shooting, Rech said the teenager told others in the German-language chat room that: “Everyone laughs at me, nobody recognizes my potential.”

“I’m serious, I have a weapon here,” Rech said the youth wrote. “Tomorrow I will go to my school.”

Rech said that the chat had occurred the night before the attack, but a police official, Erwin Hetger, later said it was in the early morning Wednesday, about six hours before the 9:30 a.m. shooting.

A Bavarian man told police about the chat after the school shooting in Winnenden had taken place, Rech said. He told authorities his 17-year-old son only told him about it after seeing the news reports and had not taken the threat seriously.

Despite the high death toll, the shooting could have been worse if the principal of the high school had not been able to warn teachers with a prearranged code over the public address system when the suspect burst into the school.

According to media reports, after the suspect entered the school in Winnenden on Wednesday morning and opened fire, the principal put the emergency plan in effect, quickly broadcasting a coded message to teachers: “Frau Koma is coming,” students said.

“Then our teacher closed the door and said we should close the windows and sit on the floor,” a student, identified only as Kim S., told ZDF television.

In German the word “amoklauf” is used to describe school shootings, and “koma” is the reverse of the word “amok.” Hetger said the coded alert was worked out by German educators after a deadly school shooting in Erfurt in 2002 as a way to warn teachers.

Local media have identified the gunman as Tim Kretschmer and the name on his parent’s home was Kretschmer.

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