Four dead in German teenager's gun attack

A TEENAGER shot his sister dead, fired indiscriminately on passers- by and eventually killed himself yesterday as a family tragedy engulfed the Bavarian skiing paradise of Bad Reichenhall.

The 16-year-old boy, armed with high-calibre guns belonging to his father and a large quantity of ammunition, began shooting out of the window of his home just after noon. "He fired at everything that moved," a police spokesman said.

Perched by the window, he kept up the salvo for 45 minutes, aiming at people going in and out of the hospital next door. A woman and a man were killed but their bodies could not be recovered for several hours because the boy also fired at paramedics.

Another six injured could also not be helped until the armour-plated BMW of the Prime Minister of Bavaria, Edmund Stoiber, arrived. Mr Stoiber lent police his vehicle so that the most severely injured could be taken to Salzburg in Austria, which had the nearest hospital equipped for such an emergency.

The boy's identity was not revealed for legal reasons. Police said that he had probably taken the weapons from his father's gun cabinet. The father is a member of a local shooting club. As a small child, the boy had been banished from at least one home in the neighbourhood because of his alleged fascination with toy guns.

Police could not shed light on the boy's motives. His parents were reported to have watched the tragedy from the street, advising police on how to handle their son.

Confusion surrounded the exact sequence of events. According to a 79- year-old neighbour, Alfred Wolzem, there had been some shooting in the morning. The sound of gunfire is not uncommon in the Bavarian village, where according to local custom newlyweds are greeted with such a salute, but Mr Wolzem was surprised to hear five shots as he was eating his breakfast. "I asked myself: who is getting married on All Saints' Day?" he said.

The rest of the villagers became aware of the tragedy when they heard the sustained shooting in the street. The teenager opened fire at a quarter past 12, and kept shooting until one o'clock. Then everything fell silent.

Hundreds of crack police armed with sub-machine-guns had arrived in the meantime, blocking off the streets to keep onlookers away. The officers took up their positions about 100 yards from the apartment, but all attempts to talk to the assailant failed. There was no response from the building.

The police narrowed down the possibilities to three. The boy had either fallen unconscious, or killed himself, or somehow fled the scene. Finally, six hours after the first bullets had begun raining down on the streets, the order was given to storm the apartment. As darkness fell, a special commando unit burst through the door, their weapons cocked, but never fired. Inside lay the bodies of the teenager and a woman, believed to have been his 18-year-old sister.

According to one villager, the assailant was "a quite normal lad", although somewhat obsessed with weapons. A school friend recalled that the boy had often boasted about his prowess with guns.

The shooting drew comparisons with April's school tragedy in Littleton, Colorado, where two teenagers killed 12 students and a teacher. Germany, like the United States, has a strong gun culture, especially in rural areas, where the shooting club is often the focal point of social life.

Yesterday's carnage is certain to provoke a debate in the country about the wide availability of firearms. Although such incidents are rare, the blood-bath in Bad Reichenhall is the second in Bavaria in three months. In August, a gunman in Dachau shot and injured three people before turning his weapon on himself.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Portfolio Administrator

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has become known a...

Recruitment Genius: Mechanical and Electrical Engineer - Midlands

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrig...

Recruitment Genius: Sales / Account Manager

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales / Account Manager is re...

Ashdown Group: Application Developer - C#.Net, ASP.Net - Cambridgeshire

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Software Application Developer (C# & ASP.Net, SQL S...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot