Chronology of a Mass Murder: 'The Scope of this Disaster Is Incomprehensible'
On Wednesday, Tim K. staged a massacre at a local school in Germany and then continued on a rampage that culminated with a police shootout and his suicide. SPIEGEL ONLINE documents the tragic day.
At about 9:30 a.m., Tim K., wearing what eyewitnesses later describe as black combat gear, walks into the Albertville Realschule in the city of Winnenden near Stuttgart in the southwestern German state of Baden-Württemberg. The school itself has 580 students, divided into 20 classes, and 32 teachers -- but even more children and adolescents attend school in the larger educational center, of which the Albertville Secondary School is a part.
Tim K. climbs the stairs to the second floor. He storms into a classroom where he shoots five students in the head at close range. "The children appear to have been totally surprised. When their bodies were later found, some of them still had pens in their hands," the state's interior minister, Heribert Rech, will later say.
Tim K. then moves to the physics classroom on the upper floor, where he shoots a female teacher who is later found dead behind an experiment table. Betty, a crying 15-year-old student, later reports her experiences during the rampage. "I heard three shots and screams," she says. "At first I thought it was a joke. But then someone shouted: 'run, run.' Then I saw other students jumping out of windows, and I ran."
9:33 a.m. : The police receive the first emergency call from a student who is calling from his mobile phone. "We could hardly understand what he said," a police spokesman would later say. "You could hear screaming in the background."
9:35 a.m.: According to police, three officers with a swat team arrive at the scene within two minutes of the first emergency call. They enter the school and can still hear shots being fired. As they approach the stairs to the second floor, they believe they see the perpetrator. Tim K. fires at them and flees the scene. While exiting, he shoots two more female teachers.
Police find a large quantity of unused bullets on the school's floors. The chief criminal investigator, Ralf Michelfelder says: "It appears the perpetrator may have intended to do far more harm at the school than he managed." Tim K. escapes from the school, flees over the grounds and shoots a gardener at a nearby psychiatric and neurological clinic. News agencies report that he then flees towards the downtown area.
9:35 a.m.: The teachers at another school, the Geschwister Scholl Secondary School in Winnenden, are alerted. Olga, a 15-year-old student there, later reports that her teacher was initially called out of the classroom, only to return a short time later looking "nervous." "He told us to remain calm and lie down on the floor." The door and windows had been locked, the teacher said. "It was total horror," says Olga, an 8th-grader. "It's the sort of thing you normally see on television."
9:40 a.m.: Shocked students begin to pour out of Albertville Secondary School. Medics arrive and begin treating the injured. Police began a massive manhunt for the perpetrator.
10:00 a.m. : Chaos has erupted on the school grounds. Twelve kilometers (7.5 miles) away, special police units storm the house of Tim K.'s parents in Weiler zum Stein, a neighborhood in the town of Leutenbach in Rems-Murr County. The perpetrator's father, as part of a gun club, allegedly legally owns 15 weapons. (Ed's note: In Germany, private gun ownership is illegal in most cases unless a person is a registered member of a gun club.) Fourteen are stored in a safe, and the Beretta, which had been in the parents' bedroom, has disappeared.
10:27 a.m. : The news agencies file their first breaking reports about the shooting rampage in Winnenden, initially reporting two dead.
A police special forces unit arrives at the school and seals off the premises, as well as downtown Winnenden. The police order local businesses to lock their gates and doors. Large numbers of police immediately begin hunting for the gunman.
11:06 a.m. : The news agencies increase the death toll to nine.
11:14 a.m. : The news from Winnenden begins arriving more and more quickly. The killer is apparently on the run, and residents are warned not to pick up hitchhikers.
11:20 a.m. : The news agencies increase the death toll to 10.
11:49 am. : A news agency reports that the killer has been arrested. But the information is incorrect, as it later turns out.
11:51 a.m. : For the first time, it is reported that the presumed killer is a 17-year-old, former pupil at the Albertville Secondary School. The police maintain a low profile. "We still have to verify the facts," says a police spokesman.
11:52 a.m. : Psychologists are now counseling the unharmed students.
11:58 am. : Eyewitnesses and others on the school grounds begin to talk about the horror and fear they experienced. According to one eyewitness, many students are taken to safety "or locked into the classrooms." Special forces have surrounded the school. A number of students are waiting in an indoor swimming pool building. "The people here are horror-stricken," says the eyewitness. "The man who went on this killing spree was apparently acting alone."
12:03 p.m. : The death toll increases again, to 11 this time. A police spokeswoman denies reports that the killer has been apprehended. "It's not true," she says.
12:04 p.m.: At a parking lot in Winnenden, Tim K. forces the driver of a car to drive him out of the town. The trip with the hostage proceeds in the direction of Wendlingen, a town in Esslingen County about 40 kilometers (25 miles) away.
After running off the road in a sharp turn, the car gets stuck at the side of the road. Tim K. proceeds to flee by foot, and the driver of the car immediately calls the police.
12:14 p.m. : "The scope of this disaster is incomprehensible," says Heribert Rech, Baden-Württemberg's state interior minister, in an initial reaction.
12:15 p.m.: Tim K. flees into an industrial area in Wendlingen. He demands a car and fires 13 shots at a salesman and female customer. He then has to change the magazine on his gun, which gives another salesman and another customer a chance to escape. The perpetrator leaves through the front door. He sees a police officer and fires at him. The policeman fires eight shots back, hitting Tim K. twice in the leg. Tim K. moves back into the car delearship and fires another 12 shots at other cops through the glass.
He then leaves through the back, going into the courtyard of a neighboring business. He fires at an employee of a neighboring firm as the worker tries to lock the door. Tim K. changes the magazine on his gun and then shoots himself. Shortly later, a police spokesman says, "he was found dead."
12:39 p.m. : For the first time, the following headline runs across the news tickers: "The Winnenden killer is dead."
12:43 p.m. : An employee at the clinic where the gardener was shot relates her impressions: "I heard six to seven shots. I have been told not to leave my ward." The clinic, she says, has been sealed off.
12:46 p.m. : A police spokesman confirms that there has been a shootout in Wendlingen, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Winnenden on the A8 autobahn. It is later revealed that the incident was in fact the deadly exchange of fire between the police and the killer.
1:04 p.m. : German President Horst Köhler expresses his emotions in an initial statement: "My wife and I were horrified and deeply saddened to learn of the shooting rampage in Winnenden. Our thoughts are with the victims and the families and friends. At this difficult time, we feel deeply connected to them."
1:27 p.m. : The death toll increases to 16. Police announce that 17-year-old Tim K. has been shot.
1:59 p.m. : At a press conference in Winnenden, the investigators announce that Tim K. graduated from the Albertville Secondary School in 2007. Helmut Rau, the state's minister of education, says that the young man was "never conspicuous" at the school and began a vocational training program after graduating. According to Rau, Tim K. had apparently had a "double identity."
5:20 p.m. : A police spokeswoman announces that the police have learned from the latest information available that the Winnenden school killer apparently committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.
*German privacy laws prevent us from immediately giving his full name until circumstances have been clarified
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