'Eighteen dead' in German school rampage

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The Independent Online

A recently-expelled student opened fire inside a German school today, killing 17 people. Police said the victims included at least two children.

A recently-expelled student opened fire inside a German school today, killing 17 people. Police said the victims included at least two children.

The dead included 10 male and seven female victims and a 19-year-old gunman, police officials told a news conference in the eastern city of Erfurt.

Meanwhile, police said the last 180 students were safely evacuated from the Johann Gutenberg Gymnasium school, located in a residential area of the city.

Police initially said two teachers and a police officer who rushed to the scene were killed in the rampage. Later, police commandos were sent on a room-to-room search of the building.

Shocked and upset students who fled the shooting reported seeing a man dressed all in black roaming the hallways with a gun.

"I heard shooting and thought it was a joke," said 13-year-old Melanie Steinbrueck, chocking back tears. "But then I saw a teacher dead in the hallway in front of Room 209 and a gunman in black carrying a weapon."

"The guy was dressed all in black ? gloves, cap, everything was black," said Juliane Blank, 13. "He must have opened the door without being heard and forced his way into the classroom."

"We ran out into the hallways. We just wanted to get out," she said.

Outside the school, a police officer with a megaphone urged parents to register their kids' names before leaving the scene. Groups of dazed and shocked students huddled in the street, hugging and crying.

A handwritten sign reading "HILFE" ? Help ? was pasted to a fourth-floor window and the face of a girl could be seen through the window in the classroom.

Police said they received a call at 11:05 a.m. from the school janitor, who said someone was shooting in the building. An initial team of officers arrived on the scene shortly after and entered the school. One of the policemen was among those killed.

Ambulances and police cars massed in front of the school, where several hundred children in grades five through 12 were in classes when the shooting began.

Sixth-grader Martin Streng said he was in math class when he heard gunfire coming from a classroom down the hall. As he and other students filed into the hallway to flee the building, they saw a man with a gun down the corridor behind them, Streng said.

It was Germany's second school shooting in two months. In February, a 22-year-old German who recently lost his job shot and killed two former bosses and his old high school's principal in a rampage outside Munich.

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