Erfurt school shooting

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The Erfurt massacre was a school massacre that occurred on April 26, 2002 at the Gutenberg-Gymnasium in Erfurt, Germany. The gunman, 19-year-old expelled student Robert Steinhäuser, shot and killed sixteen people; comprising 13 faculty members, 2 students, and one police officer, before committing suicide. An additional seven people were injured either directly or indirectly from the shootings.


The massacre

On the day of the shooting, Steinhäuser armed himself with a 9mm Glock 17 and a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun, which was unusable due to an earlier handling error, before leaving his residence at his usual time. When he entered the campus, he went into the lavatories to change his clothes, and then donned a black ninja-style outfit.

The shooting started at approximately 11:05 a.m. Steinhauser had moved from classroom to classroom, pausing briefly each time in the doorway to shoot the teacher, then moving on to the next room. According to students, he ignored them and aimed only for the teachers, although two students were killed by shots fired through a locked door.

Five minutes after the shooting began, police arrived outside the school. Soon after, Steinhäuser aimed from a window and fatally shot a police officer in the head. Before he committed suicide, he was confronted by one of his teachers, Rainer Heise, who walked into the demasking shooter. Pausing, having established deep eye-contact with Steinhäuser, he said, "Du kannst mich jetzt erschießen." ("You can shoot me now."), Steinhäuser is said to have answered, "Herr Heise, für heute reicht's ("Mr. Heise, enough for today").[2] According to Heise, he then talked to Steinhäuser for a short amount of time, luring him into the doorway of an empty room. When Steinhäuser was in the doorway, Heise pushed Steinhäuser into the room and quickly locked the door. Steinhäuser committed suicide shortly after and his body was found by police a few hours after the shooting.[3] 71 rounds were fired throughout the whole series of shootings.

Steinhäuser's last words -- Für heute reicht's ("(this) is enough for today") -- was also the title of a very controversial book about the massacre written by Ines Geipel, who alleged that there were several mistakes made by the police on the case. Geipel, and relatives of some of the victims, criticized police for the initial speed of their response. The police had initially believed there was a second gunman, leading them to retake the school room-by-room rather than storm the entire building.[4]

Heise was considered to be a hero by some for locking Steinhäuser in a room and stopping the killing, but later began to receive some backlash from the public.[5]

The massacre lead to a code word being developed that could be broadcast over the public address system to warn teachers of a shooting. "Mrs Koma is coming", which is amok spelled backwards was later used at the Albertville school shooting to instruct teachers to lock doors.


  • Coincidentally, on the day of the massacre, the German government was discussing raising the legal age level on firearm ownership from 18 to 21, while others pushed for a ban of firearms.
  • In fact, except for hunters, the legal age for firearm ownership above .22 LR caliber (and 200 Joule) was raised to 21, with an additional medical and psychological test under 25. Moreover, pump-action shotguns with pistol-shaped grip were banned.
  • Due to pressure by the families of the victims[citation needed], the state of Thuringia put the exams for lower school graduations in the curriculum of higher school forms. Steinhäuser, although in the 12th grade when expelled, did not possess the lower graduations after 9th and 10th grade, leaving him without any school graduation after dropping out. This was a special situation only in the state of Thuringia.
  • Steinhäuser's family issued a statement to news sources and said that it "will forever be sorry that our son and brother has brought such horrifying suffering to the victims and their relatives, the people of Erfurt and Thuringia, and all over Germany."[6]
  • The United States Secretary of Education Rod Paige offered condolences to the German people.[7]

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