Two residents of Germany’s Halle who were shot dead Wednesday during an attempted massacre at the city’s synagogue were identified Friday in German media as 40-year-old music superfan Jana Lange and a 20-year-old painter worker Kevin S.
The suspect, 27-year-old German Stephan Balliet, appeared to choose the victims at random after he failed to gain access to the synagogue he had besieged with gunfire and homemade explosives, as the frightened congregation barricaded itself inside.
German media reports said Lange was gunned down outside the synagogue after she reprimanded Balliet for making so much noise near the Jewish house of worship, where Yom Kippur prayers were taking place. Lange apparently did not realize what Balliet was doing.
Lange was unable to work due to a medical condition, and devoted most of her time to attending shows and collecting autographs. Friends and German musical artists on social media mourned Lange, recalling her warmth, humor and dedication to the German pop music scene.
Den Opfern ein Gesicht geben:
Wenn man die Berichterstattung zu #Halle vergegenwärtigt, muss man sich fragen, warum die beiden Ermordeten kaum Erwähnung finden?
Sie waren Deutsche und hießen Kevin S. (20) und Jana L. (40) RiP✝️ pic.twitter.com/6qDkNOVAIi
— ????Fjordfrau???? (@Fjordfrau) October 11, 2019
One of Lange’s favorite artists, Stefan Mross, paid tribute to her on Facebook on Thursday, saying: “The rampage in Halle has taken our most loyal fan from us,” noting she always had “a zest for life.”
Moments after he killed Lange, Balliet went to a kebab shop around the corner where he shot Kevin S., who worked at a nearby construction site.
The 20-year-old painter and designer was described as a dedicated worker and avid soccer fan.
His mother Mandy told German media outlets that she watched Balliet’s livestream of the rampage and her son’s murder as he ate lunch.
“He had his whole life ahead of him. He was only 20 years old. I don’t know how my life is supposed to carry on,’ she told the RTL news site.
Hallescher FC, the local third-division soccer team that Kevin S. supported, extended their condolences to the family in a statement on Friday.
“Our sympathies are with his relatives, friends and everyone who knew him. We wish them strength at this difficult time,” the team said in a statement.
In a copy of a 35-minute video obtained by AFP, Balliet filmed himself launching into a diatribe against women and Jews, and denying the Holocaust, before carrying out the attack.
The rampage was streamed live for 35 minutes on Twitch, and eventually seen by some 2,200 people, the online platform said, in a chilling reminder of the mosque attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March which was also played out online in real time.
Police subsequently captured the Halle suspect after a gun battle that left him wounded.
He also published an anti-Semitic “manifesto” online more than a week ago, which the SITE monitoring group said appeared to have been written by Balliet. The document obtained by AFP but unauthenticated by police showed pictures of the weapons and ammunition he apparently used.
The daily Bild spoke to relatives and neighbors who described Balliet, a former soldier, as a loner and computer junkie who lived with his mother. In the streamed video he repeatedly calls himself a “failure” and a “loser.”
Federal prosecutor Peter Frank said Thursday that Balliet would be charged with two counts of murder and nine counts of attempted murder in what he called a “terror” act that had been planned as a “massacre.”
Balliet had packed four kilograms (nine pounds) of explosives in his car, and “wanted to enter the synagogue to kill many people,” Frank added.
Hundreds took part in a vigil in Halle on Thursday evening and were to join a silent march to the synagogue, where locals have left dozens of bouquets of flowers.