Tragedy befell the Albertville Secondary School in Winnenden, Germany last Wednesday, when a masked intruder entered and went on a shooting rampage. The incident, which left 16 dead and many others injured, was similar to the Columbine High School shooting that took place in Colorado ten years ago.
The killer, identified as Tim Kretschmer, was a 17-year-old former student at Albertville. He arrived there at approximately 9:30 a.m. on March 11, clad in black combat gear. He then opened fire on people in classrooms, killing nine students and three teachers.
Students reported hearing bangs, which were the shots being fired by the student. Teachers were eventually able to inform one another that a gunman was loose in the school and were told to get out and go to the swimming pool.
Others attempted to head for safety by jumping out the windows, and many were injured in the process. The scene was soon flooded with police cars and ambulances, but Kretschmer escaped the school, shooting a passer-by as he fled, according to reports.
From there, he hijacked a car and fled to the town of Wendlingen, 25 miles away. After breaking into an industrial estate, he killed two more people in a car showroom.
When officers showed up at the showroom, they exchanged gunfire with Kretschmer and hit him in the leg.
He ran from the officers and was later tracked down in a dead-end street, where it was found that he had been killed by a gunshot wound to the head. It was not known whether one of the officers had killed him or whether he had killed himself.
One of the motives for the killings was said to be misogyny, clued by the fact that eight of the nine students killed were female. Later reports found Kretschmer did not make friends easily, had trouble with teachers, and that he was unable to get a girlfriend.
The questions that popped up afterward had not only to do with the motives for Kretschmer’s shooting rampage, but also his means. It was found that his father owned a considerable supply of weapons, from which Kretschmer had borrowed.
On the same day as the German tragedy, multiple shootings occurred in Alabama when another disgruntled man started a rampage that killed ten people. It was the deadliest in the state’s history.
Michael McLendon, 28, was armed with two military assault rifles, a handgun and shotgun when he began his shooting spree, starting with members of his own family. The incident left his mother, grandmother, uncle and two cousins all dead.
The shooting was finally brought to an end after a 12-mile car chase and gun battle. McLendon ended up turning the gun on himself.
Unlike Germany’s shooting, the motive in Alabama was more clear. McLendon intended on getting back at people he believed wronged him.
Authorities later found a list with names of the people the man was planning to kill. However, none of those on the list were killed.
Andreas Sobisch, director of the Center for Global Education at John Carroll University, said the Albertville tragedy will likely affect upcoming firearm legislation. However, Alabama has some of the most lax gun laws in the United States and is unlikely to change.
“Gun laws are much stricter in Germany than in the United States,” said Sobisch, who pointed out a connection between the Albertville and Columbine shootings.
“They will almost certainly try to make the laws even stricter than they already are,” he said.
Sobisch said that the sale of personal weapons is strictly regulated in Germany, and the motives for buying them would have to be deemed “reasonable.”
The massacre that took the lives of 16, including the shooter himself, is the deadliest shooting rampage the country has seen since 2002.
That year, an expelled former student wrought havoc in a Gutenberg school in Erfurt. The shooter there had killed 17 people besides himself.