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German Courtroom Blood Bath Leaves 7 Dead, Including Assailant

March 10, 1994| From Times Wire Services

EUSKIRCHEN, Germany — A man fined for battering his girlfriend opened fire with a pistol and then detonated a bomb in a crowded courtroom Wednesday, killing himself and at least six others.

The dead included a judge, two lawyers, the girlfriend and a woman believed to be her mother, according to German police. Fifteen people were wounded, two critically, in the attack in this town of 50,000 about 15 miles west of Bonn.

The rampage was one of the bloodiest in memory in Germany, where such killing sprees are rare.

Witnesses said the 39-year-old assailant, whose name was not immediately released, had stormed from the courtroom after a judge refused to overturn a fine imposed on the man last year for beating up his girlfriend.

Cursing the judge and spectators in the courtroom, the assailant returned brandishing a pistol and opened fire, Bonn public prosecutor Joerg Pietrusky told reporters.

"His girlfriend was heard to say, 'Watch out, he's shooting in all directions,' " Pietrusky said.

One victim may have been shot in the corridor outside the first-floor courtroom in the quiet crossroads town between Bonn and the Belgian border. The 31-year-old judge, who was not identified, reached for a telephone to call security when he was shot in the neck, according to witnesses. A bailiff reportedly leaped to safety through a window, while other court officials dived for cover behind the judge's bench.

Survivors told German radio that the assailant then reached into a black backpack and extracted a bomb. The blast demolished the courtroom, blowing out three windows and flinging the defendant's body through a window into an adjacent park.

German television reported that there was little courtroom security, which Pietrusky said was typical for a court that handled relatively minor and routine criminal cases. Michael Herman, spokesman for the Euskirchen prosecutor's office, said, "As far as I know, this is the first time anything like this has happened in a German court."

The powerful explosion blew debris 100 yards down the street and littered the sidewalk with glass, brick fragments and several tattered lawbooks.

Police said they were trying to piece together the assailant's motives and background. Pietrusky said the man had no previous convictions and had not issued any threats before the attack.

A newscaster for the N-TV network finished his report on the blood bath with the comment, "It will soon be like America here."

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