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Page last updated at 23:25 GMT, Thursday, 12 March 2009

Doubt over German gunman warning

File photograph of Tim Kretschmer in 2006
Tim Kretschmer fired more than 100 shots on Wednesday, police say

German police say an internet warning which appeared to be from a youth who later carried out a deadly firearms attack on a school may have been fake.

The message was originally believed to have been posted by Tim Kretschmer six hours before he killed 15 people in the towns of Winnenden and Wendlingen.

But police later told the BBC they had been contacted by internet users and officials who doubted its origins.

They have filed a request for access to the website's US-based server.

Local police spokesman Klaus Hinderer told the BBC they had been alerted to a possible problem with the message by internet users and official sources on Thursday afternoon.

Regional police and Stuttgart prosecutors later released a statement confirming those concerns, saying that "doubts arose about the veracity of the internet chat".

The internet warning is revealed

Investigators said it appeared that Kretschmer's computer had not been used to send the message in question.

The German internet site on which the message was alleged to have been posted has been temporarily shut down.

It has been replaced by a message apparently from the website hosts saying: "No killing spree was announced here.

"We don't know what exactly the authorities claim to have found on the perpetrator's PC. Maybe he visited the site, but he definitely didn't write the post that went through the news, because that one never existed."

As the website's servers are based in the US, German police have filed an official request through Interpol to obtain permission to recover information stored on them.

Kretschmer killed 12 people in the school and three in the nearby town of Wendlingen before taking his own life.

He shot himself after a shoot-out with police in a nearby town.

'Had enough'

At a news conference earlier on Thursday, Baden-Wurttemberg's Interior Minister Heribert Rech had read out the message purportedly posted by Kretschmer.

FROM THE BBC WORLD SERVICE

"I've had enough. I'm fed up with this horrid life... Always the same," it read.

"People are laughing at me... No-one sees my potential... I am scared, I have weapons here, and I will go to my former school tomorrow and then I will really do a grilling."

The message then continued: "Possibly I get away, so keep your ears open, you will hear from me tomorrow. Just remember the name of the place, Winnenden."

Mr Rech said a German man had alerted police about the internet warning after the school shooting.

The man said his teenage son had told him about the warning only after seeing the news reports. He had not previously taken the threat seriously, responding to Kretschmer's post with "LOL", the chatroom shorthand for "laugh out loud".

Tributes

Flags were flying at half-mast across Germany on Thursday as a mark of respect for the victims of the shootings.

Students lay tributes at Albertville school in Winnenden, Germany (12/03/2009)

Students and local people have also been gathering at the Albertville secondary school, where nine students and three teachers were killed.

Many laid flowers, candles, CDs or letters as tributes to those who died.

One man held a sign saying: "God, where were you?"

"I don't know if I can stay at this school," said student Christin Pluengel. "Every time you enter, the memories come back."

A counselling centre has been set up near to school to help people come to terms with the killings.

TIM KRETSCHMER
Left Albertville school last year after passing exams
Officials said he was an ordinary pupil who had received good reports from school
German media reported he had begun an apprenticeship
Lived in the village of Leutenbach
A keen table-tennis player, who aspired to become professional

Officials said Kretschmer fired more than 100 shots during Wednesday's attack on his former school.

Germany's Bild newspaper reported students as saying he had gone into one classroom three times, asking: "Aren't you all dead?"

Hans-Dieter Wagner, police director for the Esslingen area, told the news conference Kretschmer had fled the school on foot.

In the three hours after the school shooting, Kretschmer injured a passerby and shot dead an employee at a psychiatric clinic.

He then shot and killed an employee and a customer at a car showroom in a nearby town.

Officials say he still had more than 130 rounds of ammunition left when he was cornered by police and shot himself.

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