18 Killed in German School Shooting

ByABC News
April 26, 2002, 9:49 AM

B O N N, Germany, April 26 -- An expelled student opened fire today in a school in the eastern city of Erfurt, killing 17 people and wounding six others before killing himself in Germany's worst school shooting incident.

The dead included 14 teachers, two students and a policeman one of the first officers to enter the building.

The gruesome rampage began at around 11 a.m. local time, when the 19-year-old former student, dressed all in black and armed with a pistol and a shotgun, stormed into the Johann Gutenberg Gymnasium and opened fire. Police commandos rushed to the scene in an attempt to free about 180 students trapped inside the building.

The gunman killed himself as commandos closed in on him, police said. Four hours after the siege began, Erfurt police Chief Manfred Grube told a news conference the situation "was over."

Police did not immediately release the name of the gunman, but said he had been expelled from the school. It was not clear why, but he had apparently been prevented from taking the exam required for entering a university.

As the drama unfolded, local television stations broadcast an image of a sign reading "Hilfe" "Help" held up in a school window.

"We are stunned in the face of this horrible crime," German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder told reporters. "All explanations we could give right now don't go far enough."

The government ordered flags around the country flown at half-staff.

The rampage came just days after the third anniversary of the Columbine High School killings in Colorado. Fifteen people, including the two teenage assailants, died in the April 20, 1999, massacre.

The death toll of today's incident matched that of the 1996 shooting at an elementary school in Dunblane, Scotland, where 16 children, a teacher and the gunman died.

Man in Black Roaming the Halls

Police arriving at the school found bodies strewn in hallways, classrooms and even toilets.

"We found a horrible scene," police spokesman Manfred Etzel told Germany's N-TV television.