Two people were shot dead in Halle (Saale) in the East German state of Saxony-Anhalt in what is presumed to be a neo-Nazi terrorist attack. The city council spoke of a “killing spree”. The attack took place near a local synagogue, which the perpetrator is said to have targeted initially. According to police, the perpetrator was arrested.
In the city, two people were shot dead at noon on a street in the Paulus district north of the city centre. The Paulusviertel and the main station were closed off. Due to the presumed anti-semitic background of the attack, the Federal Attorney General is taking over the investigation.
Synagogue apparent target of the shooter
The heavily armed man first tried to force open the door of the synagogue and enter the building. He also placed explosives in front of the door. According to the chairman of the community, he failed due to the security precautions. There were up to 80 people in the building celebrating the highest Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur. He told the “Stuttgarter Nachrichten” and the “Stuttgarter Zeitung” that the perpetrator had also tried to shoot his way through to the Jewish cemetery.
Afterwards, according to media reports, the shooter fatally wounded a woman by shooting her in the back a few meters away from the church, and shot dead a man in a kebab shop a few hundred metres away. He seriously injured a woman and a man, who, according to the university hospital, are now out of acute danger. The authorities have not yet commented on the identity of the victims or on other possible injuries. It is also unclear whether the victims were targeted randomly.
Shooter presumed to be a lone perpetrator
Even though police were able to arrest a suspect in the afternoon, they called on people to stay in their homes or to go to safe places, as it was not clear whether potential accomplices of the shooter were still at large. The suspect fled by car and was arrested by police after crashing and injuring himself.
According to information from ARD-Hauptstadtstudio and SWR, the suspect is Stephan B., a 27-year-old German from Eisleben in Saxony-Anhalt, which is a good half an hour’s drive from Halle. Stephan B. is said to have been unknown to the security authorities before the crime. Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer stated that the investigating Attorney General of the Federal Republic of Germany estimated that there were “sufficient indications of a possible right-wing extremist background”.
B. filmed his crime. According to ARD information, the approximately 35-minute-long video shows him making clearly anti-Semitic statements, including Holocaust denial. According to the live streaming site Twitch, his attacks were transmitted on this site via real-time video. The video also shows how he tries in vain to open the synagogue door and how he repeatedly shoots a man in a bistro who is taking cover behind a refrigerator.
Apparently the video also includes references to videos of comparable perpetrators, such as the Christchurch shooter. With the video, in which the perpetrator speaks English at least at times, he likely intended to achieve greater notoriety, which is why the authorities have repeatedly called for the film not to be distributed.