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Former student storms German school, goes on shooting spree that wounds 25

Associated Press Writer

[Related P-1 article: Preparing for a school shooting: 13 lessons learned during a training exercise]

EMSDETTEN, Germany -- A former student armed with guns and bombs stormed a high school in northwestern Germany, wounding 25 people before he was found dead, police said.

The 18-year-old went into the Geschwister Scholl school in Emsdetten, near the Dutch border, at about 9:30 a.m. (0830 GMT) and fired several shots, officials said.

Three students aged 12 to 15, a female teacher and the head caretaker suffered gunshot wounds. Several of the injuries were serious, but none life-threatening.

Another 20 people were hurt by the smoke, most of them police officers. The school was quickly cleared and the students taken to safety.

The assailant was found dead during a police search of the school, officers said. His name has not been released.

The incident brought back memories of a shooting rampage in the eastern German city of Erfurt in 2002, when a former pupil killed himself and 16 others, most of them teachers.

The suspect in Monday's shooting spree had indicated his plans on an Internet site that carried pictures of him in military-style uniform and brandishing what appeared to be a submachine gun, and left a farewell note that "indicates something of his motive," state prosecutor Wolfgang Schweer said.

He also said the man had been due to go trial on Tuesday for weapons offenses after being caught with a loaded pistol several months earlier.

"He seems to have been frustrated by a lack of meaning in his life," Schweer said at a news conference. "We have no reason to think he had contact with any extremist groups. It appears that he was a loner who decided on his own to do this."

Witnesses said the masked gunman parked his car nearby and opened fire as soon as he entered the school yard, wounding several people and sending students running in all directions.

The first patrol car arrived at the scene six minutes after a distress call from a school secretary, prompting the attacker to withdraw to the second floor, said Hans Volkmann, a senior police officer.

Heavily armed police officers searched the building room by room, evacuating four more terrified students. They found the assailant lying dead in a smoke-filled room.

Volkmann said officers could see two sawed-off guns lying near his body and a knife strapped to his leg. Several homemade pipe bombs also were lying nearby and the man appeared to be carrying other explosive devices on his body.

Volkmann said the man's face was "unrecognizable" because of serious injuries but that it wasn't clear if he had shot himself or was killed by one of the bombs. Police fired no shots, he said.

"He is still lying there because he's wired up," Volkmann said. "Experts are still trying to defuse those devices."

Students at the school said the assailant was an aggressive and aloof individual who played violent computer games and had said he wanted to join the army.

Katja Weber, a 17-year-old student at the school, said he always wore a black hat and coat.

"He was an absolute loner," Weber told reporters outside the school. "Guns were his hobby."

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