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Robert Steinhäuser

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Robert Steinhäuser

Erfurt massacre
Gutenberg Gymnasium
Location Erfurt, Germany
Date Friday, April 26, 2002
c. 11:05 a.m. — c. 11:10 a.m. (CEST)
Target Gutenberg-Gymnasium
Attack type School shooting, mass murder, murder-suicide, massacre
Weapon(s)
  • Mossberg 590 Mariner 12-gauge pump-action shotgun
  • 9mm Glock 17 semiautomatic pistol
  • Deaths 17 (including the perpetrator)[1]
    Injured (non-fatal) 1
    Perpetrator Robert Steinhäuser
    Motive Expulsion

    The Erfurt massacre was a school massacre that occurred on April 26, 2002 at the Gutenberg-Gymnasium in Erfurt, Germany. The gunman, 19-year-old expelled student Robert Steinhäuser, shot and killed 16 people; comprising 13 faculty members, two students, and one police officer, before committing suicide. One person was also wounded by a bullet fragment.

    Background

    While the motive is unknown, it is believed[by whom?] to be related to Steinhäuser's expulsion from school without qualifications and his subsequent feeling of victimhood and hopelessness regarding his future job opportunities.[2]

    Robert Steinhäuser (born January 22, 1983) was a student of the Gutenberg Gymnasium until early October 2001. At the end of September 2001 he had spent a few days away from school, for which he presented a medical certificate which was quickly identified as a forgery. Because of this forgery Steinhäuser was expelled.

    Due to the regulations used in Thuringia at this time, Steinhäuser on expulsion found himself with no qualifications at all, and therefore very limited job prospects.

    The massacre


    On the day of the shooting, Steinhäuser armed himself with a 9mm Glock 17 and a Mossberg 590 Mariner 12-gauge pump-action shotgun , which was unusable due to an earlier handling error, before leaving his residence at his usual time. When he entered the campus, he went into the lavatories to change his clothes, and then donned a black ninja-style outfit.[2][3]

    The shooting started at approximately 11:05 a.m. Steinhäuser had moved from classroom to classroom, pausing briefly each time in the doorway to shoot the teacher, then moving on to the next room. According to students, he ignored them and aimed only for the teachers and administrators, although two students were killed by shots fired through a locked door.[3]

    Five minutes after the shooting began, police arrived outside the school. Soon after, Steinhäuser aimed from a window and fatally shot a police officer in the head. Before he committed suicide, he was confronted by one of his teachers, Rainer Heise, who walked into the demasking shooter. Pausing, having established deep eye-contact with Steinhäuser, he said, "Du kannst mich jetzt erschießen." ("You can shoot me now."), Steinhäuser is said to have answered, "Herr Heise, für heute reicht's" ("Mr. Heise, it's enough for today").[4] According to Heise, he then talked to Steinhäuser for a short amount of time, luring him into the doorway of an empty room. When Steinhäuser was in the doorway, Heise pushed Steinhäuser into the room and quickly locked the door. Steinhäuser committed suicide shortly after and his body was found by police a few hours after the shooting.[5] 71 rounds were fired throughout the whole series of shootings.

    Steinhäuser's last words – Für heute reicht's ("It's enough for today") – was also the title of a very controversial book about the massacre written by Ines Geipel, who alleged that there were several mistakes made by the police on the case. Geipel, and relatives of some of the victims, criticized police for the initial speed of their response. The police had initially believed there was a second gunman, leading them to retake the school one floor at a time rather than storm the entire building.[6]

    Heise was touted as a national hero for locking Steinhäuser in a room which ended the killing spree, but was later subject to innuendo and other backlash from some members of the public.[7]

    The massacre led to the development of a code word that could be broadcast over the public address system to warn teachers of a shooting. "Mrs Koma is coming", which is "amok" spelled backwards, was later used at the Winnenden school shooting to instruct teachers to lock doors.

    Victims

    The gunman killed 16 people in the massacre. They are:[8]

    • Rosemarie Hajna (54), vice-principal, teaching German and history
    • Yvonne-Sofia Fulsche-Baer (38), French teacher
    • Heidrun Baumbach (56), German and history teacher
    • Monika Burghardt (49), biology and chemistry teacher
    • Dr. Birgit Dettke (39), art teacher
    • Gabriele Klement (43), German and art teacher
    • Carla Pott (27), German and history teacher in training
    • Heidemarie Sicker (59), biology and chemistry teacher and responsible for psychological care
    • Hans Lippe (44), biology and chemistry teacher
    • Helmut Schwarzer (54), math and physics teacher
    • Hans-Joachim Schwertfeger (44), math and physics teacher, head of upper school and school management team member
    • Peter Wolff (60), math and physics teacher
    • Anneliese Schwertner (54), school secretary
    • Susann Hartung (14), eighth-grade student
    • Ronny Möckel (15), eighth-grade student
    • Andreas Gorski (39), policeman

    Reactions

    • Steinhäuser's family issued a statement to news sources saying that they "will forever be sorry that our son and brother has brought such horrifying suffering to the victims and their relatives, the people of Erfurt and Thuringia, and all over Germany."[9]
    • The United States Secretary of Education Rod Paige offered condolences to the German people.[10]

    See also

    References

    External links

    • BBC News article (April 26, 2002)
    • The Guardian article (April 26, 2002)
    • "Schools remember massacre victims" BBC News article (29 April 2002)
    • "School killer's parents break silence" The Observer article (May 5, 2002)
    • "Mourning for victims of German school rampage" CCN article (April 26, 2002)
    • "German gun control laws to be tightened" CCN article (April 26, 2002)

    Coordinates: 50°58′53″N 11°00′53″E / 50.98139°N 11.01472°E / 50.98139; 11.01472

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