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article imageTen females among 17 dead in German high school shooting

By Adriana Stuijt     Mar 11, 2009 in Crime
German police in Winnenden near Stuttgart say a gunman dressed in a black 'combat 'uniform opened fire at a high school in southern Germany today. The current death toll is 17 people including the gunman, shot dead during a shootout with police.
The man, named as Tim Kretschmer, a 17-year-old former pupil from nearby Waltenschtein, walked into the school and started shooting at 9:30 a.m. local time. Local news coverage reports that ten students and three female teachers died from the shooting inside the school, and one pedestrian was shot dead outside the school. Then he was involved in a kidnapping in which he shot two more citizens and injured five people during a shoot-out with police near his parental home in nearby Wentlingen.
Did he target females specifically?
The German newspaper Bild said Kretschmer may have specifically targetted women and girls since 8 female pupils and 3 female teachers were left dead from his first killing spree inside the school - one girl student had been injured critically and died about an hour later in hospital. He ended up dead from a gun battle with police two hours later, after they had tracked him down and cornered him.
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The school was immediately evacuated. About 1,000 children aged 11 to 16 years attend the school located some 20 kilometres northeast of Stuttgart in southerly Germany, in the county of Baden-W├╝rttemburg.
The entire town has only about 26,000 residents. The school is located in the centre of town.
Police spokesman Nikolaus Brenner revealed more about the youth's background, saying that he was an only child from a middle-class family. Tim's father is a member of a gun-club and was legally registered as an arms-owner. Germany has a total of only 3,5-million legally-registered gun owners, police said.
In his attack at the school and the gun-battle with police, the youth used various highpowered handguns such as 9mm and also an otherwise unspecified hunting rifle. He had used at least 100 gun cartridges during the shooting rampage, which police confirmed were stolen from his father's gun-lock up.. They also noted that he was a very accurate shottist- something which was also confirmed by a classmate, who said he was at the practice-range frequently and enjoyed handling firearms.
Did he commit suicide, or was he shot dead?
For example, one senior policeman said Tim Kretschmer had fired five bullets into a police car with the officer inside - 'and he must have been the luckiest man on earth, because he wasn't hit." Other police cars also were riddled with bullets. Three police officers were injured in the shoot-out while they tried to arrest the gunman. Police said they couldn't say at the moment whether he'd committed suicide during his gun-battle with police, or whether he was killed by a police bullet. This would have to be determined with a post-mortem.
Pupils interviewed on German TV said when they heard the shots, many of their teachers rushed to lock the classrooms doors and started ordering them to leave the classrooms through the windows. "We crawled out of the windows and down the fire-escapes,' said one. "We were all very scared'.
Winnenden is an historic market town near Stuttgart - which is Germany's sixth-largest city and an industrial powerhouse, where for instance the Mercedes Benz factories are located. Winnenden's origins stretch back to the 12th century. It's the hometown of German firm Kaercher, a renowned maker of high pressure cleaners.
Several school shootings have shocked Germany in past years. In 2006, a masked man wearing explosives and brandishing rifles opened fire at a school in the western town of Emsdetten, wounding at least 11 people before committing suicide.
In April 2002, Germany suffered its worst school shooting when a gunman killed 17 people, including himself, at a high school in the eastern city of Erfurt.
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