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Doctors carry a wounded student to an ambulanceImage: AP

17 Killed in High School Shootout in Germany

April 27, 2002

At least 17 people died in a school shootout in the German city of Erfurt on Friday. A former student stormed into the building and opened fire. The assailant is among the dead.


It’s a scene like out of the television news – shaken students consoling each other after a shoot-out in a high school. This time, however, tragedy didn't strike somewhere in America, but in the eastern German city of Erfurt.

Amoklauf in Erfurter Gymnasium
Shocked studentsImage: AP

17 people are dead, at least four are injured after Germany's worst post-war shooting.

Police said two students, 13 teachers and one police officer were killed. The 19-year-old gunman committed suicide after the shooting.

Gunman fires at teachers and students

According to police and eye-witness reports, the shooting began at 11 a.m. A former student, who had recently been expelled from the school, entered the building and randomly opened fire.

As the first police officers arrived on the scene Friday morning, the gunman started firing at them without warning, the head of Erfurt's police, Manfred Grube, said. One of the officers was fatally wounded.

Amoklauf in Erfurter Gymnasium
Gutenberg High School in ErfurtImage: AP

Manfred Grube said special police forces were then called to the scene and the school was cordoned off. As the police commando closed in on the building, the officers found two bodies in the school entrance and more victims in the school hallways and bathrooms. Some of them were horribly disfigured because the gunman had shot them in the face. Grube spoke of a "horrific scene".

Inside the building, the special police commando force went from room to room. There were originally fears that a second gunman could be holed up in the school holding hostages. Those reports were not confirmed.

Officers combed the building, gradually bringing those still inside to safety. "After police had come closer to where he was he killed himself with a handgun in one of the classrooms," police chief Grube said.

Police found 500 rounds of unused ammunition beside his body.

Most students escaped

Police said 180 students, aged between 10 and 19 years, were able to get out of the building safely.

An information center for parents was set up in the neighboring Federal Labor Court. The local fire-fighting service set up an emergency rescue tent on a sports field close by, where the shocked survivors of the incident were being taken care of.

Local media spoke of stirring scenes: students crying in each other’s arms, parents frantically looking for their children.

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