Custody battle sparked female lawyer’s shooting rampage, say German police

By Calvin Palmer

A female lawyer in southern Germany killed three people, including her estranged husband and young son, yesterday evening before being shot and killed by police.

The lawyer, 41,  killed her ex-husband when he came to pick up their five-year-old son after a weekend visit at her flat in Loerrach, a town close to the Swiss border.

She then set the flat on fire and ran out into the street, shooting at two people before entering the St Elisabethan Hospital, where she headed for the gynecology department and killed a male nurse.

It is reported that the woman, who had been separated from her husband since June, suffered a miscarriage six years ago in the same hospital.

Police said the nurse had stab wounds as well a bullet wound in the head.

“The woman opened fire at police as they arrived,” police said in a statement. “In the subsequent exchange of fire, a police officer was seriously injured and the woman was killed.”

Police have not released the identity of the woman.

Senior public prosecutor Dieter Inhofer speculated that “relationship problems may have been a trigger for the crime”, citing a custody dispute.

The Interior Minister of the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Heribert Rech, praised the police for their quick response.

“The officers deployed prevented worse consequences through their determined intervention,” Rech said. “If the woman had remained armed and in action, there would surely have been more victims.”

Police chief Michael Granzow said the nurse who was killed and the two passers-by and the policeman who were injured were “random victims”.

This latest shooting has renewed calls for a firearms ban in Germany.

The woman apparently practiced target shooting and was the legal owner of several firearms.

“Firearms must be completely removed from private homes,” said Wolfgang Wieland of the Green Party.

Wieland added that gun control laws in Germany had been tightened incrementally after several shooting sprees in the country, most notably a 2009 school shooting in the southern town of Winnenden, but the strength of the firearms lobby prevented greater progress in blocking gun possession.

In March 2009, Tim Kretschmer, 17, took his father’s guns and killed 15 pupils at the Albertville secondary school before taking his own life.

His father, Joerg Kretschmer, was a member of a local shooting club and had licences for the guns but is now on trial in Stuttgart, charged with breaking gun laws by allowing his son to gain access to the weapons.

[Based on reports by Deutsche Welle and BBC News.]

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