While many Americans labor under the belief that random shootings only happen on American shores, nothing could be further from the truth. They happen practically everywhere. We just don’t hear nearly as much about them when they happen in other countries.
Today, unfortunately, we’re hearing about one in Halle, Germany.
Two people are dead following a shooting spree in the city near a synagogue around the Yom Kippur observances.
A 35-minute video has been posted online that appears to have been filmed by the gunman who killed two people — one outside a synagogue and one in a kebab shop — in the German town of Halle.
The video appears to have been filmed with a camera mounted on the helmet of the attacker.
The video was posted on Twitch, an online video streaming platform that is most commonly used to stream live video of video games.
“We are shocked and saddened by the tragedy that took place in Germany today, and our deepest condolences go out to all those affected,” Twitch said in a statement.
It remains to be seen what the motive for such an attack might be. It could be just someone flipping out and deciding to shoot innocent people or it might be anti-Semitic in origin. Right now, it’s still far too early to know.
Police say a suspect has been arrested, so those questions may well be answered very soon.
Dozens of people were inside the synagogue when the attack took place. The suspect then apparently went down the street to continue his violent attack.
A witness told local television he first heard “a huge bang” before he saw someone “try to enter the Jewish cemetery.”
“He shot several times with a shotgun at the cemetery, at the door. Then a woman came, who was shot, she just happened to come from the tram stop,” the witness said.
The head of Halle’s Jewish community, Max Privorozki, told German news magazine 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.”
Privorozki said there were 70 or 80 people inside the synagogue when the shooting occurred.
A witness interviewed on n-tv television said he had been in a kebab shop when a man with a helmet and a military jacket threw something that looked like a grenade, which bounced off the doorframe. Conrad Roessler said the man then shot into the shop at least once.
So we have a witness identifying the weapon as a shotgun of some sort, though whether that checks out remains to be seen, and reports of him throwing something that “looked like a grenade.” That sent people into a panic and he reportedly fired into the crowd a single time. At least one of the two reported deaths were in that kebab shop.
CBS News points out that antisemitism has been on the rise in Germany.
As CBS News correspondent Roxana Saberi reported last year, a marked rise of extreme nationalist groups in Germany has also brought a. German police received more than 400 reports of anti-Semitic attacks in the first half of 2018 — 10 percent more than the same period the previous year.
What they haven’t done, however, is provide any evidence of whether this was directed toward the Jewish community during one of their most important occasions or simply a random act with unfortunate timing.
This is a story worth following as things proceed.
Update: Some reports suggest that the video the shooter streamed included comments about the Holocaust being fake and blaming Jews for immigration woes in Germany. This would support claims that this was an anti-Semitic attack.