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Friday, 26 April, 2002, 22:46 GMT 23:46 UK
Eyewitness: Erfurt massacre
The Gutenberg school
Pupils were sitting leaving exams
The people of Erfurt and Germany as a whole have been trying to comprehend the horror of what happened at the Gutenberg high school, where an ex-pupil shot dead 17 people and then killed himself.

We just wanted to get out

Pupil Juliane Blank
Judging by the reaction of those who witnessed the tragedy, the scars seem likely to remain on the quiet provincial city for decades.

Filip Niemann, a pupil at the school, said the experience of watching teachers being shot by the man would stay with him for ever.

He described the shootings in the most vivid terms: "We were sitting in class doing our work and we heard a shooting sound."

Pupils hug each other outside the school
The killer had once said he wanted to be "famous"
"We joked about it and the teacher smiled. The teacher let us go out and see what was happening and when we left the classroom, three to four metres in front of us, there was a masked person in black holding his gun at his shoulder.

"He stretched out his gun and fired. We saw a teacher fall to the ground. We just turned and ran.

"I heard from other kids the gunmen opened classroom doors and aimed at teachers..."

'Dressed in black'

"Even if I believed in God, I would not believe in him any more - how could he let something like this happen?" he added. "What I have seen today will stay with me for the rest of my life."

Those officers found a scene of absolute horror - in the hallways, in individual rooms, in the toilet area, they found people who had been killed

Police official Rainer Grube
Another pupil, Juliane Blank, said: "The guy was dressed all in black - gloves, cap, everything was black.

"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."

"The pupils ran out of the classroom and he came after us and shot a teacher next to me," said an unnamed pupil. "He looked deep into my eyes."

Rainer Grube, a police official, described the scene as he found it: "Those officers found a scene of absolute horror.

"In the hallways, in individual rooms, in the toilet area, they found people who had been killed."

The BBC's Robert Hall
"Turmoil in the quiet streets of Erfurt"
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder
"My sympathy of course to the families of the victims"
Erfurt police spokesman Willie Schleggelmilch
"The gunman had to leave the school about two months ago"
Former pupil of the school, Christiane Michel
"We are all stunned"
See also:

26 Apr 02 | Europe
18 dead in German school shooting
08 Mar 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Germany
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