Several injured in German lecture hall shooting, gunman killed: police

Police cars in line stand on the compound of the University of Heidelberg, southwestern Germany, after an attack by a lone perpetrator on January 24, 2022.

Police cars in line stand on the compound of the University of Heidelberg, southwestern Germany, after an attack by a lone perpetrator on January 24, 2022.

A gunman injured several people in a shooting inside a lecture hall at Heidelberg University in southwestern Germany on Monday, police said, adding that the perpetrator was now dead.

“A lone perpetrator injured several people in a lecture hall with a long gun. The perpetrator is dead,” Mannheim police said in a statement.

German media reported that the gunman had killed himself and that he appeared to have no religious or political motive.

A major police operation was under way at the university's Neuenheimer Feld campus, the police said on Twitter, urging people to steer clear of the area “so that rescue workers and emergency services can travel freely”.

Police also said that they were “not aware of any letter claiming responsibility”, as they called on the public to avoid speculating.

Heidelberg is a picturesque university town in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, home to a population of around 160,000 people.

Heidelberg University, founded in 1386, is Germany's oldest university and one of the top-ranking in Europe.

The university's Neuenheimer Feld campus, on the northern bank of the Neckar river, hosts natural sciences departments, part of the university clinic as well as a botanical garden.

Students were told not to come to the campus by an email from the university, local broadcaster SWR reported.

The university only resumed in-person classes in October after months of distance learning because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Students have to show they are vaccinated against Covid, recovered or in possession of a recent negative test if they want to enter university buildings.

Tightened gun law

Germany has been hit in recent years by a spate of attacks, mostly perpetrated by jihadists or far-right militants.

School shootings however are relatively rare in Germany, a country with some of the strictest gun laws in Europe.

In 2009, a former pupil killed nine students, three teachers and three passers-by in a school shooting at Winnenden, also in Baden-Wuerttemberg. The gunman then killed himself.

In 2002, a 19-year-old former student, apparently in revenge for having been expelled, gunned down 16 people including 12 teachers and two students at a school in the central German city of Erfurt. He too then killed himself.

Both massacres were carried out with legal weapons and spurred Germany to tighten its gun laws.

The country currently requires anyone younger than 25 to pass a psychiatric exam before applying for a gun licence.

In another incident in 2016, nine people were killed when gunman David Ali Sonboly went on a rampage in a shopping centre in Munich.

The shooting sparked renewed debate about whether Germany should place further curbs on gun ownership.

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Printable version | May 23, 2022 5:25:56 am |