Police warned schools on Monday, Nov. 19 to be attentive to potential emulators of a foiled school shooting in Cologne. One of the two suspects took his own life after police uncovered the plot.
Police found air guns and cross-bows in the suspects' possession
According to police, two high school students, aged 17 and 18, had made plans to kill other students and then themselves on Tuesday, Nov. 20 -- the one-year anniversary of a school massacre in the German town of Emsdetten in which an 18-year-old had injured 37 people before taking his own life.
"They wanted to injure and kill people and then kill themselves," said leading police investigator Norbert Wagner on Sunday in Cologne.
Other students alerted police to the plot at the Cologne high school in western Germany by pointing out pictures of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in the US state of Colorado that the 17-year-old had posted to the Internet.
Suspect commits suicide after plans uncovered
The boy threw himself in front of a tram, later dying of injuries, after police had visited the school on Friday to confront him about the online massacre pictures. A police spokesman said Monday that the student had immediately agreed to remove the photos and gave no indication of being suicidal when officers spoke with him.
Police said the suspect didn't appear suicidal
An 18-year-old accomplice was taken into custody and confessed to the plot, said police. Motives for the massacre were unclear, though the 18-year-old had reportedly said he was bullied at school.
Police found crossbows and air guns in the boys' possession, along with a list of 17 students and teachers thought to be potential victims. Investigators said they suspect the two may have intended to build pipe bombs, though none had been found.
Experts urge schools to beware of warning signals
"Unfortunately, we have to assume that shootings at schools and universities will be copied," Rainer Wendt, chairman of the German Police Union (DPOLG), said on Monday in Duisburg.
Schools and police should pay close attention to the warning signals, said Wendt, adding that acts of this kind are often made known beforehand on the Internet.
Rudolf Egg, director of the Central for Criminology in Wiesbaden, said in a television interview Monday broadcast on public station ZDF that the foiled plot in Cologne had similarities to recent school shootings in the US, German and Finland.
Most often, the culprits are loners who "want to direct violence externally and then against themselves" in a crisis situation, said Egg.
The foiled massacre planned for Tuesday in Cologne follows a shooting in a small Finish town earlier this month, where an 18-year-old gunman killed seven fellow students, the head teacher and himself.