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Murder charges filed against German synagogue attack suspect

The attack stoked concern about anti-Semitism and far-right violence in Germany.
Image: German synagogue attack aftermath
A man wearing an Israeli flag lays flowers outside the synagogue in Halle, Germany, Oct. 10, 2019, after two people were killed in a shooting.Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters

BERLIN — German prosecutors said Tuesday they have charged the suspect in last year’s botched attack on a synagogue in the eastern city of Halle with murder and attempted murder, among other offenses.

The German man in his late 20s attempted to attack a synagogue on Oct. 9, which was Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest day. He later killed two people. The attack stoked concern about anti-Semitism and far-right violence in Germany.

The man, who was previously unknown to police, posted an anti-Semitic screed before the attack and broadcast the shooting live on a popular gaming site.

The attacker tried but failed repeatedly to force his way into the synagogue as 52 worshipers were inside. He then shot and killed a 40-year-old woman in the street outside and a 20-year-old man at a nearby kebab shop, which prosecutors say he picked as an “appropriate target” to kill people with immigrant roots.

Federal prosecutors said the suspect, whom they identified only as Stephan B. in line with German privacy rules, was indicted on two counts of murder and 68 counts of attempted murder, along with other charges including bodily harm and incitement.

The indictment was filed April 16 at the state court in Naumburg. It wasn’t immediately clear when a trial might open.

The suspect was armed with eight firearms, several explosive devices, a helmet and a protective vest. Prosecutors have said the weapons were apparently homemade.

He fled the city, wounding another two people in a small town near Halle where he abandoned his car and stole a taxi to drive onward. He was arrested about 1½ hours after the attack as he got out of the taxi, which had been in an accident.