Two dead in shooting targeting German synagogue in live-streamed attack

Two people were killed on the streets of the German city of Halle on Wednesday after a suspected far-right gunman failed to storm a synagogue in an attack broadcast on a livestreaming website. 

Several bystanders were also injured but a bloodbath was avoided because the shooter was unable to enter the city’s synagogue, which was packed with 70 people marking the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur. 

In headcam footage posted on Twitch the gunman fires three shotgun rounds into the synagogue’s door, but fails to break it down.

Before the shooting begins, he says in English: “My name is Anon and I think the holocaust never happened…feminism is the cause of declining birth rates in the West which acts as a scapegoat for mass immigration, and the root of all these problems is the Jew.”

The attacker was named by the German press last night as Stephan B, a 27-year-old German from the surrounding state of Saxony-Anhalt. 

Halle – Germany map

The arrested man, described as a "white German" was last night being treated in hospital for injuries sustained during his attempt to escape.  

German interior minister Horst Seehofer said the attack was “at least antisemitic” and that federal prosecutors had taken over the investigation as it bore indications of right-wing extremism. 

There were conflicting reports during the course of the day over whether one or more suspects were involved in the attacks, but police said the evidence points to a lone gunman.

At around 12 noon local time (11am BST), he tried to force his way into the synagogue,which was packed with worshipers, including children and the elderly.

But those inside were alerted by the sound of gunfire,and when they saw what was happening on the security cameras, they barricaded the doors.

The gunman carried an assault rifle in the Wednesday-morning attack

“The perpetrator shot multiple times at the door and threw a couple of molotov cocktails, fireworks or grenades at it. But the door stayed closed, God has protected us,” Max Privorotzki, the head of the Jewish community in Halle, said.

Those outside were not so fortunate.

The gunman turned his frustration on a woman walking on the street outside the nearby Jewish cemetery.

The video footage he shot shows that he shot her from behind in cold blood.

Her body lay covered with a blue tarpaulin on Wednesday afternoon, her backpack discarded nearby.

He then continued to a Turkish kebab shop a few streets away, where he shot one man dead before returning to fire several shots into his lifeless body.

Policemen arrive at the scene of the shooting in Halle an der SaaleCredit:
SEBASTIAN WILLNOW/dpa/AFP via Getty Images

Konrad Rösler, an eyewitness, described how he was in the kebab shop as the gunman approached. “We saw this guy outside. He had army gear on, a helmet, and an assault rifle,” he told Bild newspaper.  “And then I saw, because I was standing right at the entrance, that he wanted to throw something like a grenade in the store.It was probably a firework. It bounced off the door-frame and exploded. Then he opened fire.

“I found a toilet and locked myself inside. Then I heard another bang. There were screams too. At some point I heard the police and I made myself known and went out.”

The gunman was injured in a shoot-out with police before fleeing in a rented car to the village of Landsberg, just outside Halle.

There he drove to a mechanics’ workshop where he demanded another vehicle. He shot an employee who tried to stop him and stole a taxi parked outside.

Two people were killed in a shooting in the eastern German city of HalleCredit:

His escape was finally cut off when the stolen taxi he was driving was involved in a collision with a lorry on a main road heading south. 

Central Halle was on lockdown for most of the afternoon and police asked people to stay indoors amid reports of more gunmen on the loose.

The alert was finally lifted on Wednesday evening as it became clear there had only been one attacker.

The footage shot by the gunman and streamed on a video game site evokes parallels with March’s mosque shootings in New Zealand in which the gunman live streamed his attack on Facebook.

The Halle attack comes after multiple warnings from the German intelligence services of the growing threat from homegrown far-Right extremism. Halle is a known centre for far-Right sympathisers — notably the Indentitarian movement, which was also accused of links to Brenton Tarrant, the Christchurch gunman.