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Halle suspect confesses to Yom Kippur shooting

October 11, 2019

The suspect in the synagogue attack, Stephan B., has confessed to the shooting in the eastern German city of Halle. He cited anti-Semitic and right-wing extremist motives for the attack.

Mourners gather at the synagogue in Halle
Image: Reuters/H. Hanschke

A 27-year-old suspect has confessed to the attack at the synagogue in Halle ​​​​​​that left two dead, Germany's Federal Prosecutor's Office said on Friday.

During a lengthy meeting with German investigators on Thursday, Stephan B. spoke "very extensively" and admitted that anti-Semitic and right-wing extremist beliefs motivated him to commit the attack, a spokesperson for the Federal Prosecutor's Office said.

Read more: Deadly attack targets synagogue in Germany — as it happened

"He gave an extensive confession. He confirmed far-right and anti-Semitic motives" for the attack, the spokesman said.

The suspect made the confession to the judge at Germany's Federal Court of Justice on Thursday evening. The arrest warrant, issued on Thursday, was for two counts of murder and seven counts of attempted murder.

Read more: Locals join Jewish community for vigil in German city of Halle

German special police escort Stephan B., suspected of killing two people in a shooting in Halle October 9, 2019, as he arrives prior to a hearing at the Federal Court in Karlsruhe, Germany.
German special police escort Stephan B., suspected of killing two people in a shooting in Halle October 9, 2019, as he arrives prior to a hearing at the Federal Court in Karlsruhe, Germany.Image: Reuters/R. Orlowski

Germany mourns

More than 2,000 members of the community came together on Friday to form a human chain in front of the synagogue, which was targeted in the attack. 

Similar vigils took place in many other German cities. The Jewish holy day of Shabbat begins on Friday at sunset.

The leader of the German Evangelical Church, Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, was also in attendance in Halle. He described himself as "overwhelmed by how many people had come."

"There is hope," he told the crowd.

People also lit candles outside the synagogue and held them in their hands as a mark of solidarity.

Read more: How can Germany better protect its synagogues?

Candles outside the Halle synagogue
Candles outside the Halle synagogueImage: Reuters/H. Hanschke

3D printer used to make weapons

Prosecutors also said on Friday that Stephan B. had built his own weapons. After finding a 3D printer in his home, investigators said that they believed he had used this to assemble the weapons.

Stephan B. is currently in custody awaiting trial and the German authorities are treating the incident as a far-right terrorist attack.

German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer in comments published in the Tagesspiegel newspaper on Friday said, "Our country and its basic order is being attacked from within." She also called for stronger security laws.

Meanwhile, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has accused right-wing party Alternative for Germany (AfD) of being partially responsible for the attack, and said they should distance themselves from inflammatory and hateful rhetoric.

He also described an "elevated" risk of attacks. He warned on Friday that more attacks could happen "at any moment" and that Berlin was "extremely alert" to further attacks.

Germany's upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, on Friday held a minute of silence for the victims of the attack.

Eye-witness: "For some seconds, everyone was silent and confused"

kmm,ed/sms (dpa, ARD, AFP)

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