Winnenden, Germany The 17-year-old had no criminal record and authorities say he was barely noticed in school until he returned Wednesday with a handgun and a purpose.
Entering the high school where he graduated last year, he burst into morning classes and opened fire, taking students and teachers by complete surprise.
“Children were sitting at their tables, with pencils still in their hands, their heads fallen over on the table,” said regional police director Ralf Michelfelder, describing the grisly scene that his officers found. “Most of them had shots in their head — it must have all happened in seconds.”
Police identified the gunman only as Tim K. But the name on the mailbox at his parent’s home was Kretschmer and local media identified him as Tim Kretschmer.
The suspect went to three classrooms, killing nine students and three teachers before fleeing the building when police arrived on the scene. It was there the plan seemed to break down. Police said he left a cache of ammunition at the school, indicating that he had planned more killings there.
“Our officers were very quick,” said Baden Wuerttemburg state interior minister Heribert Rech. “Through the immediate police intervention they were able to prevent a further escalation of the crime.”
There was no immediate indication of motive, but the gunman’s victims were primarily female: eight of nine students killed were girls, and all three teachers were women. Three men were killed later as the suspect fled.
Friend Fabienne Boehm, 12, said she recently met the shooter and that he had claimed fellow students at the high school had mocked him and teachers there ignored him.
Three weeks ago, she said he showed her a note. “He wrote to his parents that he’s suffering and he can’t go on,” she told the AP outside a memorial service at a town church late Wednesday.
The dark-haired teen, shown wearing glasses in pictures on German television, apparently took the weapon from his father’s collection of 15 firearms along with a “multitude of ammunition,” police said. His father was a member of the local gun club and kept all the weapons locked away except for the pistol, which was kept in the bedroom.
Police said the suspect was a below-average student at the school of about 1,000 pupils, but managed to graduate last year.
After fleeing the school, the suspect ran into downtown Winnenden, a town of 28,000, where he shot two people walking by a psychiatric clinic, killing one and injuring the other, police said.
The gunman then hijacked a car and forced the driver to head south while threatening his life from the back seat, triggering a land and air manhunt involving 700 police officers and four helicopters, according to Stuttgart prosecutors, who are leading the investigation.
The driver swerved off the road to avoid a police checkpoint and managed to escape, while the suspect fled into an industrial area in the town of Wendlingen, about 24 miles from Winnenden.
He entered a car dealership, where he shot and killed his final victims — a salesman and a man shopping for a car — and then went back outside, prosecutors said.
He opened fire on police swarming the area. They shot back and hit the suspect, who fell to the ground, Michelfelder said.
But he got back up, reloaded his weapon, and fled into what turned out to be a dead-end street. Police found him there dead, having apparently shot himself in the head.
Two police officers suffered serious, but not life-threatening, injuries.