APTOPIX Germany School Attack
A mother comforts her daughter Thursday as they mourn in front of the Winnenden, Germany, school where the gunman started his deadly assault.
updated 3/12/2009 3:19:10 PM ET 2009-03-12T19:19:10

German police said Thursday they now doubt whether a chat room post attributed to a teenager who went on a shooting rampage is real.

Police spokesman Klaus Hinderer said authorities are looking into whether the Internet postings were faked. Hinderer's statement contradicted his earlier announcement that authorities were "completely convinced of the veracity of the post."

The post appeared in a chat room some six hours before the shooter, Tim Kretschmer, went on a rampage Wednesday at his former high school and killed 15 people in and around the southwest German town of Winnenden.

A joint statement released late Thursday by regional police and Stuttgart prosecutors said that, "in the course of the afternoon, doubts arose about the veracity of the Internet chat."

Hinderer said a search of Kretschmer's computer had shown no trace of his having made the chat room posting.

No details on doubts
Stuttgart state prosecutors, who are leading the investigation, said they were trying to reach the U.S.-based provider of the site. A message posted to the site Thursday said, "No killing spree was announced here."

Prosecutors' spokeswoman Claudia Krauth told The Associated Press that they shared the police doubts.

"It is diametrically contrary to our earlier announcement," Krauth said.

She would not provide details on why authorities now doubt the posts.

"Now we need to check whether it's really false, how that could have been done and who it was," Krauth said.

Police said they learned of the chat from a Bavarian teen who told his father and then police about it when he realized the threat had been real.

Authorities were still trying to determine Thursday what prompted Kretschmer to carry out a bloodbath on Wednesday before turning a 9mm Beretta pistol on himself after a shootout with police.

Across Germany, government buildings lowered their flags to half staff, while schools held moments of silence for the victims. Germany's national soccer league, the Bundesliga, said players would wear black armbands in upcoming games.

Outside the school in Winnenden, students and residents lit candles and laid tulips, roses, handwritten notes and stuffed animals in a memorial.

Fourteen-year-old Kristin Puengel said a friend of hers was among the eight girls killed. Three female teachers and a boy were also shot in the school. Another three men were killed as Kretschmer fled police.

Computer and shooting were hobbies
She said that she only knew Kretschmer — who appeared in pictures shown on German television to be a dark-haired teen with glasses — by sight, but that he was not a friend.

"He was somewhat withdrawn, but I would never have thought (he would be capable) of anything like this," Puengel said.

Slideshow: School horror

Authorities and friends said that although Kretschmer played table tennis and lifted weights, his main hobbies appeared to be shooting and spending hours on his computer — where investigators said they found pornographic films, violent computer games and a collection of horror and action films that included "Rambo First Blood," "Freddy vs. Jason," and "The Marksman."

Officials said he had been interested in a girl, but that the feelings were apparently never reciprocated.

"It didn't work out," said Ralf Michelfelder, police chief in the nearby town of Waiblingen.

Kretschmer's father was a well-off businessman who legally owned 15 weapons and belonged to a gun club where his son regularly turned up for target practice, Rech said.

"He was well-trained in firing weapons," Rech said of the teen.

Underwent treatment for depression
The teen, who graduated from Albertville high school with average grades in 2008, underwent several treatment sessions for depression at a psychiatric clinic that fall, said investigator Siegfried Mahler. Afterward, he was prescribed a session of outpatient therapy, which he never began, Mahler said.

Although authorities said he had struggled in school, Kretschmer was studying sales at a vocational school.

Authorities said they found some 60 shell casings in the school and that the number of victims could have been much higher had educators and police not carried out a plan learned in an earlier training program preparing them to respond to such a shooting.

The principal broadcast a secret code known to teachers and students across the public address system warning them that a gunman was in the school. Teachers swiftly locked their classroom doors and ordered students to hit the floor, tipping over their desks in the process to provide extra protection.

When the first police squads arrived minutes later, they immediately stormed the building, under fire from Kretschmer as they came up the stairs before chasing him from the building, said state police president Erwin Hetger.

"We know from previous school shootings that the perpetrators only stop when they run out of ammunition, when they feel threatened by the police, or when they take their own lives," Hetger said.

"This gunman had more than 250 bullets on him when he entered the school," Hetger said.

More on Germany

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Students mourn shooting victims


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments