- The man who killed two people outside a synagogue in Germany on Wednesday might have killed 80 more if it weren’t for a locked door.
- “The perpetrator shot at the door several times and threw several Molotov cocktails, firecrackers, or grenades to try to get in. But the door stayed shut,” Max Privorozki, a Jewish community spokesman, told Der Spiegel.
- Privorozki also said that while the gunman tried to shoot down the door, as many as 80 people inside the temple “carried on” with their Yom Kippur worship.
- The gunman opened fire at about 1:15 p.m. local time, and the police detained a suspect shortly before 2 p.m. The police say he was injured in a shootout with officers and was then arrested.
- German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer late Wednesday said the attack, broadcast on the livestreaming platform Twitch, was anti-Semitic and most likely had a far-right motive.
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The attacker who killed two people outside a synagogue in Germany on Yom Kippur couldn’t get past the temple’s locked door, most likely saving the lives of as many as 80 people inside.
At about 1:15 p.m. local time on Wednesday, the Halle police reported that a gunman in camouflage gear was on the run after killing two people near the Jewish synagogue on Humboldtstrasse. At 1:55 p.m., the police said they had apprehended a suspect.
But according to worshippers inside the synagogue, the gunman might have taken the lives of 70 to 80 people who were inside if it weren’t for a locked door.
“The perpetrator shot at the door several times and threw several Molotov cocktails, firecrackers, or grenades to try to get in. But the door stayed shut, God protected us,” Max Privorozki, a spokesman for the Jewish community, told Der Spiegel. “The whole thing took about five to 10 minutes.”
In a separate interview with Stuttgarter Zeitung, Privorozki said they carried on with Yom Kippur worship as the gunman attempted to break in.
“We barricaded our doors from inside and waited for the police,” he said. “In between, we carried on with our service.”
“We saw through the camera of our synagogue that a heavily armed perpetrator wearing a steel helmet and rifle was trying to shoot open our door.”
“The man looked like he was from the special forces. But our doors held firm.”
One of the gunman’s victims, a man, was shot right outside the synagogue, and the other, a woman, was shot at a kebab shop nearby, the Halle police said.
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German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said in the aftermath that the attack was anti-Semitic in nature and looked to have a far-right motive, the Associated Press reported.
“According to what we now know we have to assume that it was at least an anti-Semitic attack,” he said. “According to the federal prosecutor there are sufficient indications for a possible right-wing extremist motive.”
Ten American citizens were inside the synagogue at the time, Richard Grenell, the US ambassador to Germany, tweeted on Wednesday.
Der Spiegel reported that the suspect was a 27-year-old man from Saxony-Anhalt, the state in which Halle lies. The man was detained after he was injured in a shootout with the police. Authorities have not made his identity public, but Der Spiegel identified him as “Stephen B.”
The suspect’s father said in an exclusive interview with the newspaper Bild on Thursday that his son “was on the internet too much, I tried to get to him but never got through, he always blamed others and was very unhappy with the world.”
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More than 2,000 people watched a 35-minute livestream of the shooting on the streaming platform Twitch before it was taken down.
In the video, which Insider has decided not to republish, the gunman swears when he can’t get inside the temple and is heard saying, “The root of all these problems is the Jew.”
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As Insider’s Lauren Frias previously reported, streaming platforms like Twitch have long struggled with how to manage the creation and spread of violent content.
In March, the shooter who killed 49 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, used Facebook Live to stream his attack. It was later shared in dozens of Reddit groups and posted on YouTube and Twitter.
Twitch tweeted on Wednesday: “Twitch has a zero-tolerance policy against hateful conduct, and any act of violence is taken extremely seriously. We worked with urgency to remove this content and will permanently suspend any accounts found to be posting or reposting content of this abhorrent act.”