Former student shoots 5, kills himself at school in Germany

Times Staff Writer

An 18-year-old loner wearing an explosives belt and firing guns stormed his old junior high school in western Germany on Monday, shooting four students and a janitor before killing himself as police surrounded the building.

The man, identified only as Sebastian B., rushed the Geschwister-Scholl school in Emsdetten about 9:30 a.m. with smoke canisters, pistols and rifles. Police say he slightly wounded four students and critically injured a janitor, shooting him in the stomach. A teacher, five pupils and 16 police officers were treated for smoke inhalation.

Authorities said the man posted a farewell letter on his website and a picture of himself dressed in fatigues, his face smeared with camouflage paint. “The only thing I learned intensively at school was that I’m a loser,” Sebastian B. wrote, according to police, who removed the letter from the Internet. “I loathe people.... I am gone.”

As gunshots rang through the corridors and smoke canisters exploded, students and teachers fled the building. Police commandos entered about 30 minutes later, evacuating four children and finding the man dead on the second floor. Police said he was lying beside a knife, pipe bombs and two rifles with sawed-off barrels.


It was unclear, authorities said, whether the man shot himself or died when he detonated an explosive. Bomb experts spent hours removing weapons and explosives from around his body, fearing they might be booby-trapped. Police said the man was to have appeared in court today on gun-related charges.

“I saw this guy who was running inside, then he would throw these kind of smoke bombs and started to shoot,” a boy interviewed by German television said. A girl was quoted as saying, “We really got panicked.”

The man was tormented by “a feeling his life had lost all meaning,” state prosecutor Wolfgang Schweer said.

Former classmates told German media that the man had been a good student but had become bitter by the eighth grade, wearing dark clothes, playing combat videogames and promising to join the army.

A teacher at the school, Gerd Endemann, said the man had been a “closed-off student who was very difficult to engage.”

Emsdetten, a town of about 30,000 near the Dutch border, was jolted by ambulance sirens and police radios. Parents hurried toward the school and confused students cried and bolted for cover.