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Erfurt school shooting

The Erfurt school shooting was a school shooting that occurred on April 26, 2002 at the Johann Gutenberg Gymnasium in Erfurt, Germany. The gunman, 19-year-old expelled student Robert Steinhäuser, shot and killed sixteen people; comprising of 13 faculty members, 2 students, and one police officer, before committing suicide. An additional seven people were injured either directly or indirectly from the shootings.

The shooting

On the day of the shooting, Steinhäuser left home the usual time, and told his parents he had an exam. When he entered the campus, he went into the lavatories to change his clothes, and then donned on a black ninja-style outfit.

The shootings started at approximately 11:00 a.m. Steinhauser had moved from classroom to classroom, pausing briefly each time in the doorway to shoot the teacher, then moving onto the next room. According to students, he ignored them and aimed only for the teachers, although two students were killed by shots fired through a locked door.

Five minutes after the shooting began, police arrived on the scene. Soon after, Steinhäuser aimed from a window and shot a police officer in the head, killing him instantly. Before his suicide, he was confronted by one of his teachers, Rainer Heise, who was said to have stopped Steinhäuser with the words, "Drück ab! Wenn du mich jetzt erschießt, dann guck mir in die Augen!" ("Pull the trigger! If you shoot me now, then look into my eyes!"), Steinhäuser is said to have pulled off his mask and answered, "Für heute reicht's, Herr Heise!" ("That's enough for today, Mr Heise!"). According to Mr Heise, he then talked to Steinhäuser for a short amount of time, luring him into the doorway of an empty room. When Steinhäuser was in the doorway, Heise pushed Steinhäuser into the room and quickly locked the door. Steinhäuser committed suicide shortly after and his body was found by police a few hours after the shooting. 71 rounds were fired throughout the whole series of shootings.

Steinhäuser's last words -- Für heute reicht's ("this is enough for today") -- was also the title of a very controversial book about the massacre written by Ines Geipel, who alleged that there were several mistakes made by the police on the case. Heise was considered to be a hero by some for locking Steinhäuser in a room and stopping the killing, but later began to receive some backlash from the public.

Reactions

  • On the day of the massacre, the German government discussed raising the legal age level on firearm ownership from 18 to 21, while others pushed for a ban of firearms.
  • In fact, except for hunters, the legal age for firearm ownership above .22 LR caliber (and 200 Joule) was risen to 21, with an additional medical and psychological test under 25. Moreover, pump-action shotguns with pistol-shaped grip were banned.
  • Steinhäuser's family issued a statement to news sources and said that it "will forever be sorry that our son and brother has brought such horrifying suffering to the victims and their relatives, the people of Erfurt and Thuringia, and all over Germany.
  • The United States Secretary of Education Rod Paige offered condolences to the German people.

Perpetrator and firearms

The perpetrator was Robert Steinhäuser, who had been expelled a few months prior to the shootings for missing lessons and forging excuse notes. Steinhäuser had covered up his expulsion from his family and would leave home everyday with his parents under the impression he was going to school. In the shooting he used a 9mm Glock 17 and had a pump-action shotgun strapped onto his back, but never used it. He had a license for both firearms.

See also

References

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