A gunman has killed at least one and injured three people in a shooting inside a lecture hall at Heidelberg University in southwestern Germany, police said, adding that the perpetrator killed himself.
“A lone perpetrator injured several people in a lecture hall with a long gun. The perpetrator is dead,” Mannheim police said in a statement on Monday.
One woman who was shot reportedly died a few hours after from her injuries, the interior minister of the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg Thomas Strobl told a news conference.
The gunman was an 18-year old German biology student who had no previous criminal record in the country, police said.
Investigators learned the gunman sent a WhatsApp text message shortly before the shooting that said “people have to be punished now” and that he wished to be buried at sea, Mannheim police chief Siegfried Kollmar told a news conference.
A major security operation was under way at the university’s Neuenheimer Feld campus, police added on Twitter, urging people to steer clear of the area “so that rescue workers and emergency services can travel freely”.
Heidelberg is located south of Frankfurt and has about 160,000 inhabitants. Its university is one of Germany’s best-known. Founded in 1386, Heidelberg is Germany’s oldest university.
The university’s Neuenheimer Feld campus hosts natural sciences departments, part of the university clinic as well as a botanical garden.
‘Tears my heart’
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz expressed dismay over the shooting.
“It tears my heart apart to learn of such news,” Scholz said, expressing his condolences to relatives, victims and students at the university.
Germany has been hit in recent years by a spate of attacks. School shootings however are relatively rare in Germany, a country with some of the strictest gun laws in Europe.
In 2009, a former pupil killed nine students, three teachers and three passers-by in a school shooting at Winnenden, also in Baden-Wuerttemberg. The gunman then killed himself.
Meanwhile, in November 2006, a former student at a vocational school in Lower Saxony in northwestern Germany went on a shooting spree, injuring 37 people before killing himself.
In 2002, A 19-year-old former student, apparently in revenge for having been expelled, gunned down 16 people including 12 teachers and two students at a school in the central German city of Erfurt. He, too, then killed himself.