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School shooting remembered

April 26, 2012

Ten years ago, a 19-year-old former student of the Gutenberg school in the eastern German city of Erfurt shot and killed 16 people before committing suicide. It was the first shooting of its kind in the country.

Two young women cry in front of flowers laid out at school
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

The eastern German city of Erfurt on Thursday commemorated the 10th anniversary of a school shooting that killed 17 people, including the suicide of the shooter.

The bells of all the churches in central Erfurt were rung for five minutes, as students, parents and alumni of the Gutenberg-Gymnasium gathered at the school to remember the attack. Several politicians in the state of Thuringia attended the ceremony, with Premier Christine Lieberknecht saying the wounds have still not healed.

Expelled student Robert Steinhäuser, 19, opened fire at the school around 11 a.m. on April 26, 2002, killing 12 teachers, two students, a secretary and a policewoman. He then shot and killed himself.

The shooting was the first of its kind in Germany and launched a discussion about gun safety. The debate was reignited after a similar shooting took place in the small southwestern town of Winnenden in 2009.

A spokeswoman for the Winnenden Shooting Coalition for Action on Thursday repeated calls to establish a national gun registry and to strengthen gun control laws.

"Much has been done since Erfurt, but it's a long road ahead," Gisela Mayer told the daily Mitteldeutsche Zeitung.

acb/pfd (AFP, Reuters)