BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  World: Europe
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Tuesday, 30 April, 2002, 14:35 GMT 15:35 UK
Erfurt massacre 'planned for months'
Pupils walk by a sea of floral tributes outside the Gutenberg school
The killer had acquired his guns legally
The failed student who killed 16 others and himself at his former high school may have planned Germany's worst post-war massacre for months or even a year.

We are assuming it was planned for a long time. A year may be too long but probably at least a few months

Manfred Scherer, Thuringia minister
Robert Steinhaeuser, 19, stormed into Erfurt's Johann Gutenberg high school, shooting dead 13 teachers, two pupils and a police officer before killing himself on Friday, six months after the school expelled him.

"We are assuming it was planned for a long time. A year may be too long but probably at least a few months," Manfred Scherer, acting interior minister of the state of Thuringia, told a news conference.

In Berlin, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has summoned the leaders of the country's 16 states to a meeting next Monday to discuss how to tackle violence and toughen gun laws in the wake of the shooting.

Robert Steinhaeuser, a member of a gun club, had acquired both the weapons and ammunition he used in Friday's massacre legally.

Robert Steinhaeuser (picture from Thueringer Allgemeine)
Robert Steinhaeuser had been expelled from the school

He had licences for both the Austrian-made Glock pistol, which carries up to 18 rounds, and for the pump-action shotgun he had strapped to his back when he marched through the school on the rampage.

Media reports have suggested that when Steinhaeuser joined the club more than a year ago, he was already planning the attack.

The large amount of ammunition he took into the school - 540 cartridges - also suggested that he must have been amassing his arsenal from the black market over a long period of time, the Bild Zeitung suggested.

A law on the possession of arms passed the lower house of parliament on Friday and is heading for the upper house in May.

Interior Minister Otto Schily has called for the minimum age for gun use to be raised from 18 to 21.

On Monday, Mr Schily also called for each school in Germany to have a resident psychologist.

Correspondents say the issue of law and order now looks set to dominate the campaign for September's general election, when Gerhard Schroeder's ruling Social Democrat Party (SDP) faces a strong challenge from the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), and their candidate for chancellor, Edmund Stoiber.

See also:

27 Apr 02 | Media reports
German press agonises over massacre
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories