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Former Pupil Kills 18 in Germany, Commits Suicide - 2002-04-26

Eighteen people died Friday in a school in Germany, when a former pupil opened fire with a pump-gun and a pistol. The 19-year-old gunman was harboring a grudge.

The death toll is horrific - 14 teachers, five of them women; two girls, students at the school; one policeman, and the gunman himself.

Police say four other people were wounded, as the gunman fired at teachers and pupils at the Gutenberg grammar school in the eastern German city of Erfurt.

The shock on the faces of the pupils who were led from the school told the story. One girl said she had been rooted to the spot as the gunman - dressed in black from head to foot, so she could see only his eyes - stood about one meter from her, and shot down her teacher.

Her only words for the gunman, a former schoolmate: "A complete idiot. You can't do that, even if you hate people, even if you hate your teachers."

Another student told of seeing her teacher lying in a pool of blood.

A police spokesman said that when the first officers arrived at the school, they found two bodies in the doorway. And, one policeman was gunned down in the entrance.

The police then drew back, called in a trained specialist commando group and, three hours after the school caretaker first telephoned for help, stormed the building. Police said they found bodies in the corridors, in the classrooms, and in the toilet.

The police spokesman said the gunman went into a room and shot himself with the pistol when he saw "there was no way out for him."

The gunman was a former pupil, who was expelled from the school because his class results were not good enough.

Earlier, there were reports of a second gunman, supposedly a boy still at the school who stood up in the middle of a mathematics exam, shouting, "I'm not doing this exam anyway," and took out a pistol and began to fire.

But police said they did not find a second gunman.