Winnenden Investigation Father Helped German School Killer to Buy Bullets
Earlier this year, Tim K. killed 15 people and himself in a shooting spree that started at his former school in Winnenden, Germany. According to information obtained by SPIEGEL, the investigation files show that Tim's father went with him to a gun store to buy 1,000 bullets seven weeks before the shooting.
Police investigators have found that the father of Tim K., the 17-year-old who killed 15 people and then himself in the March 11 school shooting spree in and around the south-western town of Winnenden, accompanied his son when he purchased 1,000 bullets from a gun store 47 days before the shooting. The information from the investigator's case files has been obtained by SPIEGEL.
After a store turned the boy away, Tim K. returned with his father Jörg, who ordered the munitions on Jan. 23, 2009. His son then paid, explaining that the bullets were a present for his father, a belated gift for his 50th birthday. Tim K.'s mother said her husband had been pleased by his son's thoughtfulness, since Tim hadn't given anyone in his family any presents for years. The 9 mm bullets were the right calibre for the Beretta gun his father kept in a clothing dresser in his bedroom, easily accessible under a pile of sweaters. Tim is believed to have committed the massacre with these bullets.
Tim K. Collected Information about Other Massacres
The files also claim that in the days before the shooting spree, he had researched the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks -- collecting photos of the strikes and the biographies of the perpetrators.
Investigators have spent recent months building a detailed psychological profile of the killer and his family. They have concluded there is no way his parents could have known he was about to go on a shooting spree, but that they nevertheless ignored their son's unusual behavior for months. Investigators say there were plenty of warning signs.
Investigators have found, for example, that Tim sought to self-diagnose himself medically with the help of the Internet. In November 2006, he typed the words "psychologically ill" into a search machine. And in early 2008, he also confidentially presented his mother with an article on bipolar disorders he had found on the Internet. Tim thought it might be the reason behind his poor performance in school. It was a cry for help.
Tim was given treatment at a Clinic for Child and Youth Psychiatry in Weinsberg on April 23, 2008. He told psychiatrists that he suffered from hourly mood swings and said that when he wasn't feeling good he saw the world as "darker" and couldn't see as well.
The psychotherapist who spoke to him noted the stiff way he was sitting and how he occasionally seemed absent and at times appeared restless. He said he often thought about killing people, even shooting everyone dead. At times, he said, he had "such rage, such a hatred for humanity." He would detach himself from his thoughts by playing video games on his PC for hours at a time. During the counseling session, Tim K. made no eye contact.
After four further sessions with the psychotherapist, she noted "suspected atypical autism." She said he may als be suffering from "compulsive personality disorder and video game addiction." After being interviewed later by police, she also said he may have been suffering from "schizophrenic psychosis."
A Fatal Error
Nevertheless, six months before the killing spree, she concluded that Tim K. presented no "acute danger of harming himself or others." It was a fatal error.
The psychotherapist told investigaters she had informed Tim's parents of his "aggressive thoughts towards himself and others". And she said she had no idea that the young man had easy access to weapons. Both parents have strenuously denied having been told about the content of their son's fantasies.
Following a personality and intelligence test, which showed Tim K. having negative feelings of self-worth and an average IQ of 96, the doctors diagnosed the youth with a "social phobia."
During a final consultation in September 2008, the therapists advised Tim K.'s parents to "reduce his playing on the personal computer as well as the number of films he watches." In a final discussion, the doctors said that Tim had been watching very violent films that he wasn't mature enough to deal with. They also advised the parents to send their son to further counseling, but only if he was willing to engage with psychologists.
It is unclear today whether Tim K.'s parents attempted to continue with his treatment. His father would later tell police that he and his wife were simply relieved at the time that the psychotherapists hadn't identified "anything serous in Tim."
Did Violent Video Games Play a Role?
According to information obtained by SPIEGEL, expert witness and psychiatrist Reinmar du Bois believes that Tim was heavily influenced by two Ego Shooter games he had been playing. Du Bois has divided the shooting spree into two phases. In the first, Tim K. implemented the experiences he had gained playing "Counter Strike" in real life. The clothes he wore on the day of the killing resembled those in "Counter Strike" and the kind of apparently cold-blooded killing he committed against most of his victims -- with targeted shots in the head -- is of the variety that is particularly rewarded in the game.
As he later fled with a hostage at gun point, it was similar to a scenario in the game "Far Cry 2." The directions that come with the game note that "the outnumbered advantage and firepower of your opponent can only be eliminated through guile, surprise attacks, camouflage and brutal violence." But there's one inconsistency in this assessment -- "Far Cry 2" doesn't allow players to take hostages.
In the end, du Bois believes, Tim was able to return to reality after firing 112 shots, at which point he killed himself. Tim K.'s mother gave him "Far Cry 2" for Christmas in 2008. The game has not been approved for use in Germany by anyone under the age of 18, and Tim K. was not permitted to possess it. Still, it is still disputed among researchers whether one can make a direct link between violent computer games and actual acts of violence. But it is undisputed that many potential perpetrators are interested in forms of entertainment that include violence or simulated violence.
Masochistic Personality Disorder?
According to du Bois' assessment, Tim K. suffered from a masochistic personality disorder. As evidence, the Stuttgart child psychiatrist noted that K. had left pornographic images on his computer that showed bondage scenes. The images sadomasochist photos showed naked men tied up and dominated by women. The images were always the same -- women dominating and making men suffer. He said Tim K. had suffered severely from these fantasies, and du Bois believes the his urge for masochistic submission continued to develop. At some point, the only plausible antidote he had in his head was to shoot with live ammunition.
"Aware that he would at some point punish the women who had sexually tormented and humiliated him, he could risk the masochistic submission," du Bois writes in his report, adding: "The process of a constriction of thoughts and feelings during a simultaneous clear and cold planning of murder is well described in literature on sexually motivated serial killers."
Does that mean that Tim K. deliberately targeted girls and women during his killing spree? The fact that 11 of the 12 victims shot by Tim K. at the Albertville school were female suggests it may have been.
"For the parents of the victims, this is of course an emotional and existential question," says Jens Rabe, the attorney is representing the parents of five children killed by Tim K. "I expect the report to go further into detail on this point," the criminal law specialist said, adding that he felt Tim's parent's "shared responsibility."
Public prosecutors in Stuttgart are expected to decide at the end of September whether to press charges against Tim's father.
Reported by Simone Kaiser