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Hospital shooting

September 20, 2010

Four people were killed after a woman embarked on a shooting rampage that ended at a hospital. The assailant, a practiced riflewoman, killed her son and estranged husband, possibly over a custody dispute.

The hospital in Loerrach after the incident
The woman ran into the hospital with a knife and a gunImage: dapd

German gun control activists have renewed their call for a firearms ban in the wake of news that a 41-year-old lawyer killed her ex-husband, son and two others, in shooting spree.

The woman apparently practiced target shooting and was the legal owner of several firearms.

"[Firearms] must be completely removed from private homes," said Wolfgang Wieland, firearms expert for the Green party.

Wieland added that gun control laws in Germany had been tightened incrementally after several shooting sprees in the country, most notably a 2009 school shooting in the southern town of Winnenden.

The strength of the firearms lobby, he said, prevented greater progress in blocking gun possession.

Details emerge about the case

The woman killed her five-year-old son and estranged husband on Sunday evening, when the latter came to pick up their child after weekend visit.

The rampage that began in an apartment block ended in a hospital in soutwestern Germany, police said. In all, four people died and another 18 were injured.

It is reported that the woman, who had been separated from her husband since June, suffered a miscarriage six years ago in the same hospital.

Senior public prosecutor Dieter Inhofer speculated that "relationship problems may have been a trigger for the crime."

Killer set off an explosion

The destroyed apartment
Cannisters that could have been used as a fire accelerant were found at the apartmentImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Witnesses Sunday night heard shots as well as an explosion from the housing complex in the town of Loerrach, Baden-Wuerttemberg, near the Swiss border, police said on Sunday. The bodies of the woman's son and her ex-partner were found at the scene.

Police later said that the woman had caused an explosion, possibly using a fire accelerant, at the house. A postmortem was ordered to determine if the man and boy had died as a result of the blast or the shooting.

Police said on Monday that the woman had been seen running from the apartments into the neighboring Saint Elisabeth hospital, armed with a gun and a knife. She was then reported to have opened indiscriminate fire in the maternity and children's unit.

In the course of the shooting, a male nurse was among those fatally wounded while an off-duty policeman was seriously injured. Police shot the woman dead during a shootout.

Piecing the crime together

"We are putting the evidence together and trying to form an idea of what happened," police chief Michael Granzow told a news conference.

He added that the nurse who was killed and the two passers-by and the policeman who were injured were "random victims."

The local mayor, Gudrun Heute-Bluhm told reporters "the whole of Loerrach is in complete shock."

Author: Joanna Impey, Richard Connor, David Levitz (dpa/Reuters)
Editor: Jennifer Abramsohn