Monday, March 16, 2009

Grieving Winnenden buries its dead

BERLIN, Germany (AFP) - As the burials began in the grieving German town of Winnenden, investigators tried Sunday to piece together the events leading up to 17-year-old Tim Kretschmer shooting 15 people and himself.

With the burial of Kretschmer's first victim -- 16-year-old Nicole -- came intensified debate over gun control in Germany, with Chancellor Angela Merkel calling already for tighter restrictions.

Local officials paid tribute Sunday to the "heroism" of the teachers who were inside the Albertville secondary school when the killer struck, killing eight girls and one boy, mostly with expert shots to the head.

"Although some were already injured, they brought the children to safety, locked doors and kept them quiet," Johannes Schmalzl, the head of the regional government of Stuttgart, told a news conference.

A decision on when to reopen the school -- now massed with flowers and candles to mark the dead -- has not yet been taken, said Wolfgang Schiele, director of schools in Stuttgart. Voluntary classes are available.

But the main question being asked throughout Germany -- why? -- is still unanswered. Why did this apparently normal product of a stable and prosperous home decide to commit cold-blooded mass murder?

After an Internet warning from the killer turned out to be an apparent hoax, authorities are trying to clear up what he did in the run-up to the bloodbath and whether he had been receiving psychological treatment.

Matthias Michel, head of the Weissenhof clinic in Weinsberg, told German television that Kretschmer received psychiatric treatment between April and September last year, but the family's lawyer has repeatedly denied this.

"We are sticking to our line: there was no psychiatric treatment," Achim Baechle told the Bild am Sonntag.

According to the Tagesspiegel, the day before the killing spree was entirely unremarkable for the teenager.

He carried out his studies at his vocational school, where he was training to be a salesman, ordered a pizza for lunch and worked with a colleague on a presentation he was due to give on Thursday, the paper reported.

Kretschmer even played a few hands of poker with some friends in his favourite cafe before driving back to his tiny home village of Leutenbach.

The evening before the bloodbath, however, he spent over two hours playing "Far Cry 2," a violent shooting game, the type of which he played regularly, according to news magazine Spiegel.
Less than 12 hours later, he would shoot the first of his 113 shots that would change the small town of Winnenden forever.

Politicians have already begun debating the ramifications of the killings. Merkel said in an interview with public radio Sunday: "We will probably never be able to prevent (another such massacre), but one of the lessons from this horrible event is to be vigilant."

"The possession of weapons and munitions is a subject that we must strongly pay attention to -- it must be controlled, rules must be applied," she said, evoking also the possibility of having "spot checks" of weapons.

According to an Emnid poll for the Bild am Sonntag, 78 percent of Germans want a ban on guns in private homes and 41 percent want people to be searched before entering a school.

Eight percent of those polled said they knew someone they believed capable of such an atrocity.
But while politicians and leaders concentrate on the consequences, the citizens of Winnenden were still coming to terms with their grief, helped by an army of counsellors from all over Germany.
A memorial service for the dead is planned for next Saturday.

"We cannot heal the wounds of those who were affected but we can perhaps treat the scars," said Johannes Fuchs, a local official.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Father of school gunman faces manslaughter charges

The father of school massacre gunman Tim Kretchsmer could be charged with manslaughter for allowing his teenage son access to his weapons arsenal.

Joerg and Ute Kretschmer are in hiding after being allowed to see the body of their son one last time.

The couple left their 14-year-old daughter Jasmin with friends when they went under police guard to a coroner's office to see the remains of the young man.

Mr Kretschmer, who owns a paper company, is an avid gun collector. It was his Beretta pistol that his 17-year-old son took from his bedroom to use on his rampage.
The boy, who was in and out of psychiatric institutions five times last year, killed nine pupils and three teachers at the school in Winnenden, near
Stuttgart in southern Germany, on Wednesday.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Tim warned of attack online

The teenage German 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 chat room only hours earlier and said he was “sick of this life,” officials said Thursday.

The 17-year-old suspect, whose name appears as Tim Kretschmer in police documents, told others in the chat room he planned to attack his school in Winnenden, said Baden Wuerttemburg state Interior Minister Heribert Rech.

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


Crowds in Winnenden pay respects to victims outside Albertville High school

Hundreds of young people from the town of Winnenden gathered outside the Albertville High school, the scene of one of Europe's worst school shooting massacres, late on Wednesday night to pay their respects to the victims.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Couple of minutes after the shooting...

Did Tim Kretschmer have targeted women ?

Almost all the victims of a 17-year-old gunman who went on a killing spree at his former high school in Germany were women and had been shot in the head, it emerged tonight.

Who is Tim Kretschmer?

The 17-year-old gunman responsible for today's school shooting in south-west Germany was an unexceptional student who never did anything to arouse suspicion, according to local education authorities in Stuttgart.

Named locally as Tim Kretschmer, he was shot dead by German special branch officers after killing at least 10 of his former classmates as well as three teachers and other members of the public. He left Albertville school last summer with qualifications equivalent to GCSEs. He then went on to begin an apprenticeship.