Heidelberg University shooting: Lots of questions remain unanswered
Investigators are still looking into the events surrounding the shooting at Heidelberg University on Monday that left two dead and three injured. There are still unanswered questions about the alleged perpetrator’s potential motive and how he got his hands on the weapons.
Shooter injured three, killed one, then turned gun on himself
A few details are now becoming clear. It seems that the gunman entered a lecture theatre at the university at around 12.25pm on Monday. An organic chemistry tutorial was going ahead, and around 30 students were present. He began shooting randomly, but with the intention of killing, a police spokesperson said.
A young woman was shot in the head, and three other people were injured, all of them aged between 19 and 23. The woman later died of her injuries.
The shooter then fled the building, and apparently shot himself in the botanical garden on the outskirts of the campus at Neuenheimer Feld.
Police were on site by 12.30pm, and armed officers reached the lecture hall at 12.43pm. At 12.51pm the alleged perpetrator was found dead in the botanical garden, although police did not approach the body for some time, fearing his backpack might have contained explosives. The police union later praised the quick arrival of the emergency services.
Alleged perpetrator was not known to police
The alleged perpetrator is said to be an 18-year-old German who was enrolled as a biology student at the university and lived in nearby Mannheim. So far, his motive remains a mystery. He was not known to the police, had no criminal record, and did not have a driving licence.
On Twitter, the Mannheim police wrote that there is no indication that this was an act of terrorism, and religion doesn’t seem to have been a relevant factor in the case.
Before the shooting, the 18-year-old allegedly sent a WhatsApp message to his father, which read, “People need to be punished now.” Police believe he bought the gun abroad a few days ago. He had more than 100 rounds of ammunition in his rucksack with him, as well as purchase receipts for two guns. As Mannheim police chief Siegfried Kollmar made clear, he could have reloaded and kept shooting, but did not. The reason why so far remains a mystery.
Funeral services being planned, help offered to victims
Both the German city and the university are now planning funeral services, while churches and victim protection organisations such as White Ring have offered help for the injured, witnesses and relatives.
State Interior Minister Thomas Strobl called on students to not be afraid to accept the help offered, saying that those present in the tutorial would now have to process a terrible event. He said that he very much hoped they “recover quickly in body and soul.”
The head of the local students’ association expressed shock and sadness: “We are infinitely shocked,” said chairperson Peter Abelmann. “This is a catastrophe that eludes everything conceivable between lectures, exams and university life.”