One dead, three injured in shooting on German campus » Capital News

Four people were “seriously injured” in the attack at Heidelberg University, German police said © AFP/Daniel ROLAND

Heidelberg (Germany) (AFP), January 24 – A gunman stormed a lecture hall at the University of Heidelberg in southwestern Germany on Monday, killing a young woman and injuring three others before fleeing and returning the gun against him.

The man fired “wild” shots around the amphitheater, a police spokesman told AFP.

He appeared to have no religious or political motives, German media reported.

The four victims were “seriously injured”, police said. One of them later succumbed to her injuries in hospital, security sources told AFP.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz expressed his shock at the attack and said his thoughts were with the victims and their loved ones. “It breaks my heart to hear such news,” he told reporters.

Police said the shooter was “a lone perpetrator” wielding a “long gun” and confirmed he left the amphitheater before killing himself.

More details are expected at a press conference on Monday evening.

The shooting sparked a major police operation on the university’s Neuenheimer Feld campus, with police on Twitter urging people to move away from the area “so that rescue workers and emergency services can travel freely”.

Police deployed sniffer dogs on campus and investigators were seen examining a rifle lying next to a beige backpack.

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Police later said there was no longer any danger, adding that they were “not aware of any letter claiming responsibility” for the attack.

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

A major police operation was underway at Heidelberg University after a shooting © DPA/AFP / R. PRIEBE

The University of Heidelberg, founded in 1386, is the oldest university in Germany and one of the most prestigious in Europe.

The university’s Neuenheimer Feld campus, on the north bank of the Neckar river, houses natural science departments and part of the university clinic as well as a botanical garden.

Students were told to stay away from campus in an email from the university when news of the shooting broke, local TV station SWR reported.

The university did not resume in-person classes until October after months of distance learning due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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

– Strengthened firearms law –

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

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

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A map of Germany locating Heidelberg © AFP

In 2009, a former pupil killed nine pupils, three teachers and three bystanders in a shooting at a school in Winnenden, also in Baden-Württemberg. The shooter then committed suicide.

In 2002, a 19-year-old former student, apparently in revenge for being expelled, shot dead 16 people including 12 teachers and two students at a school in the central German city of Erfurt. He too later committed suicide.

Both massacres were carried out with legal weapons and prompted Germany to toughen its gun laws.

The country currently requires anyone under the age of 25 to pass a psychiatric examination before applying for a firearms license.

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

The shooting has sparked a new debate over whether Germany should impose new restrictions on gun ownership.