The Winnenden School Shooting occurred on the morning of March 11th, 2009 at a secondary school in Winnenden in south-west Germany, followed by a shootout at a car dealership in nearby Wendlingen. The shooting spree resulted in 16 deaths, including the suicide of the perpetrator, 17-year-old Tim Kretschmer, who had graduated from the school one year earlier. Several people were injured.
Tim Kretschmer opened fire with a 9mm Beretta semi-automatic pistol in the Albertville Realschule at approximately 09:30 a.m. Eyewitness reports state that Kretschmer started on the first upstairs floor where he made a beeline for two classrooms and a chemistry laboratory. In these two rooms Tim Kretschmer killed 7 students and a female teacher. The BBC reports that he shot his victims in the head. The perpetrator fired more than 60 rounds at the school.
The school principal broadcasted a coded announcement, alerting the teachers of the situation and causing them to lock classroom doors. This coded alert had been worked out by German educators after the Erfurt School Shooting of 2002.
After receiving an emergency call from a student at 09:33 a.m., three police officers reached the scene two minutes later and entered the school, interrupting the shooting spree. Tim Kretschmer shot at them and fled the building, killing two female teachers in the hall as he departed.
Escape and Carjacking
The perpetrator fled the scene and murdered a 56-year-old gardener in the park of a nearby psychiatric institution.
Large numbers of police officers secured the school building and searched for the gunman throughout Winnenden for hours, without success.
At about 10:00, the gunman hijacked a Volkswagen Sharan minivan at a car park in Winnenden. From his position on the rear seat, the gunman ordered the driver to drive towards Wendlingen, 25 miles from Winnenden. The journey first took the gunman and his hostage westwards into the suburbs of Stuttgart, the Baden-Württemberg state capital, travelling through the towns and districts of Waiblingen, Fellbach and Bad Cannstatt before driving on the B14 dual carriageway through the Heslach Tunnel onto the A81 autobahn (motorway) towards Böblingen and Tübingen. The two then drove onto the B27 dual carriageway before leaving on the B313 to Nürtingen. Shortly before the Wendlinger junction to the A8 autobahn the hostage steered the car onto the grass verge and jumped from the vehicle towards a police patrol car. It was shortly after 12:00.
The gunman immediately left the car and ran towards the nearby industrial area, entering a Volkswagen car showroom through the main entrance. Here he threatened a salesperson and demanded a key for one of the vehicles. The salesperson managed to escape while the gunman was distracted. The gunman then shot and murdered another salesperson and a customer, firing 13 bullets into the bodies. As he reloaded, another salesperson and visitor fled through the rear exit.
The gunman emerged at about 12:30 and shot at a passing car. The driver escaped without injury. The police started to arrive and a shootout began. An officer fired 8 shots at the gunman, hitting him once in each leg.
The gunman returned to the car showroom, taking 12 shots from within the building at police from nearby Nürtingen who were gradually surrounding the building. He then left the rear of the building and ran across a yard to a neighbouring business complex where he shot and injured two police officers in an unmarked police car.
According to police reports, at this point the gunman continued to fire at random, shooting at nearby buildings and people. Witnesses then describe observing the 17-year-old as he reloaded his pistol before shooting himself in the head. The final seconds of the shootout were captured with a cell phone video camera.
According to forensic evidence, during the whole shooting spree the gunman fired a total of 112 rounds.
The perpetrator of the Winnenden school massacre was 17-year-old Tim Kretschmer, a resident of the neighboring municipality of Leutenbach, and graduated from Albertville Realschule in 2008 with relatively poor grades.
His failing grades had prevented him from an apprenticeship so he attended a commercial high school (Donner + Kern) in Waiblingen as a preparation for an apprenticeship for a commercial career. Tim Kretschmer was described by a friend as “a lonely and frustrated person who felt rejected by society.” An anonymous friend described Kretschmer as a quiet student who began to withdraw from his peers.
He was an avid table tennis player and had hoped to become a professional player. Marko Habijanec, a Croatian table tennis player who coached Tim Kretschmer at the Erdmannhausen sports club between 2000 and 2003, remembers him as being “a bit spoiled”, his mother fulfilling many of his demands.
According to Habijanec, Kretschmer had great difficulties accepting defeat: he would have a temper tantrum, yelling and throwing his racket. Having a high opinion of his own abilities, Tim Kretschmer openly denigrated his teammates. When Habijanec discussed Tim’s attitude with his mother, he was at disbelief to discover her siding fully with her son.
Media reports say he enjoyed playing the video game Counter-Strike and playing with airsoft guns. However, commentators also noted that “game addiction is a symptom of something wrong and not a cause”. He also shot his guns in the forest behind his home and also in the basement of his house. On his last day alive he played the video game Far Cry 2 online as “JawsPredator1”.
He had profiles at “MyVideo.de”, Kwick.de and other websites. He often played poker with his classmates in the “Cafe Tunix” after school hours in Waiblingen.
After inspection of his computer, officers found that he was interested in sadomasochistic scenes where a man is bound and humiliated by women. He also viewed such a movie the evening before the crime.
Kretschmer did not have a criminal record. The press reported that in 2008, Tim Kretschmer had received treatment as an in-patient at the Weissenhoff Psychiatric Clinic near the town of Heilbronn and that after being discharged, Kretschmer was supposed to continue his treatment as an out-patient in Winnenden, but ended his treatment.
According to police and clinic staff, he had been treated repeatedly for clinical depression on an out-patient basis in 2008. His family rejected these claims and maintained that he never received psychiatric treatment. According to a psychiatric report prepared for the prosecutor’s office, Tim Kretschmer met five times with a therapist and talked about his growing anger and violent urges; the therapist then informed Kretschmer’s parents.
Three weeks before the shooting he had written a letter to his parents, saying that he was suffering and just couldn’t go on.