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German police call deadly synagogue attack ‘anti-Semitic’ after 2 killed in shootings


Police say a person has been arrested after a shooting in the eastern German city of Halle that left two people dead. (Oct. 9)
AP Domestic

A “heavily armed” gunman, who used a helmet-mounted camera to livestream his assault, shouted anti-Semitic taunts as he tried to force his way into an eastern German synagogue Wednesday on Yom Kippur, then killed two people at random out front. Police arrested a suspect.

Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year in Judaism, when Jews fast for more than 24 hours. 

The gunman shot the door of the synagogue in Halle where more than 70 people were huddled. 

Just before firing, the gunman said in English, “The root of all problems are the Jews,” according to Rita Katz, director of the U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks jihadist and white supremacist organizations.

Katz said 35 minutes of head-mounted camera footage of the shooting was posted on a video game site.

Germany’s top security official, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, said authorities assume that the attack by the “heavily armed perpetrator” was anti-Semitic and prosecutors believe there may be a right-wing extremist motive. He said several people were injured.

The German news magazine Der Spiegel said the suspect is a 27-year-old, identified only as Stephan B., from the German state of Saxony-Anhalt, where Halle is located.

The magazine said the video shows the assailant shooting a passerby near a Jewish cemetery and a customer in a kebab bistro near the synagogue.

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  • Policemen secure the area around the synagogue Dreseden on October 9, 2019. At least two people were killed in a shooting on a street in the German city of Halle, police said, adding that the perpetrators were on the run. Early indications show that two people were killed in Halle. Several shots were fired. The suspected perpetrators fled in a car, said police on Twitter, urging residents in the area to stay indoors. 1 of 12
  • Policemen climb over a wall close to the site of a shooting in Halle an der Saale, eastern Germany on October 9, 2019.2 of 12
  • Policemen secure the area around a doner kebab restaurant, site of a shooting in Halle an der Saale.3 of 12
  • Police guard a crime scene near a Synagogue after a shooting in Halle, Germany.4 of 12
  • Police officers secure a synagogue in Dresden, Germany on Oct. 9, 2019. Police say a person has been arrested after a shooting that left two people dead.5 of 12
  • Policemen secure the area between Wiedersdorf and Landsberg where shots were fired.6 of 12
  • Police block the area around the site of a shooting in Halle an der Saale.7 of 12
  • Police guard a crime scene near a Synagogue after a shooting in Halle, Germany.8 of 12
  • A police tank patrols at a crime scene near a Synagogue after a shooting in Halle, Germany.9 of 12
  • Policemen walk through a street close to the site of a shooting in Halle an der Saale.10 of 12
  • Police officers secure a synagogue in Dresden, Germany.11 of 12
  • Police officers block a road in Halle, Germany.12 of 12

The head of Halle’s Jewish community, Max Privorotzki, told Der Spiegel that a camera at the entrance of the synagogue showed a person trying to break into the building.

“The assailant shot several times at the door and also threw several Molotov cocktails, firecrackers or grenades to force his way in,” he said. “But the door remained closed – God protected us. The whole thing lasted perhaps five to 10 minutes.”

Privorotzki said there were 70 or 80 people inside the synagogue when the shooting occurred.

A video clip broadcast by regional public broadcaster MDR and posted on Twitter shows a gunman stepping from a vehicle, firing his weapon, walking behind the car, then firing three more times. 

Conrad Roessler told n-tv that he had been in the kebab shop near the synagogue when a man in a helmet and a military jacket threw something that looked like a grenade, which bounced off the door frame. Roessler said the man shot into the shop at least once.

“All the customers next to me ran. Of course, I did, too – I think there were five or six of us in there,” Roessler said. “The man behind me probably died.

“I hid in the toilet,” he said. “The others looked for the back entrance. I didn’t know if there was one. I locked myself quietly in this toilet and wrote to my family that I love them and waited for something to happen.”

Police came into the shop, he said.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, lamented what he called “terrible news from Halle.”

Photos from the scene showed a body lying in the street behind a police cordon.

Halle, a city of 240,000 residents, is about 80 miles southwest of Berlin. The German national railway shut down the local station after the shooting.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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