On November 20, 2006, 18-year-old Sebastian Bosse entered his former high school in northwestern Germany, where he shot five people and set off a series of smoke bombs before police found him dead. Bosse was masked and had pipe bombs and a knife strapped to his body. He had five more pipe bombs in his backpack that explosives experts diffused, and four more were found in his car, which was parked near the school.
A school secretary called the police immediately when Bosse’s assault began, and heavily armed officers arrived quickly to begin searching the building. Bosse had retreated to the second floor, and as the officers searched they evacuated the building room by room. Officers fired no shots during the incident. A total of four students ages 12 to 16 and the head caretaker for the school were wounded, although none of the injuries were life-threatening. Twenty-two other individuals, most of them police, were treated for smoke inhalation from the bombs.
The incident brought back memories of another German shooting rampage. In 2002, Robert Steinhauser, who had been expelled from Gutenberg Gymnasium in Erfurt, shot and killed 16 people before committing suicide.
Bosse was described by his peers as a misfit. They said he was obsessed with carrying guns and often played violent video games. Students said he always wore a black hat and coat and kept to himself. Bosse had posted several pictures of himself on his website. In them, he was wearing a military-style uniform and holding a gun. He had also indicated that he planned to do something dangerous and that he was suicidal. He wrote about being treated as a “loser” by teachers and students, saying he intended to seek revenge. Bosse also expressed contempt for police and politicians. He had been caught with a loaded pistol several months prior to the school attack, and was set to go on trial for that offense the next day.
A year later, two students in Cologne, Germany, were accused of plotting a similar assault on their school to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Bosse’s attack. The school principal had discovered a website in which one of the students glorified the Columbine (Colorado) attack. One of the suspects, who was 17, committed suicide during a confrontation at the school. The other confessed to the plot.
As of March 2009, Germany was considered second to the United States in terms of the number of deaths from school shootings. This finding renewed calls for stricter gun control laws.
- Former student storms school, shooting five people. (2006, November 20). WHDH News. Retrieved from http://www4.whdh.com/news/articles/world/BO34580/
- Paterson, T. (2009, March 15). In Europe’s league of school shootings, Germany comes top. The Independent (UK). Retrieved from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/in-europes-league-of-school-shootings-germany-comes-top-1645387.html
- Two students in Germany accused of plotting a school attack. (2007, November 18). Net News Publisher. Retrieved from http://www.netnewspublisher.com/two-students-in-germany-accused-of-plotting-a-school-attack/