German police lost Halle synagogue gunman for an hour, lawmakers say
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German police lost Halle synagogue gunman for an hour, lawmakers say

Regional politicians say suspect in killing of 2 and assault on Jewish place of worship was arrested by officers in a small town and not by specialized SWAT teams hunting for him

An armed man believed to be gunman Stephan Balliet, on a street in Halle, Germany, during a shooting outside a synagogue in that city which killed two, October 9, 2019. (Screenshot/Andreas Splett/ATV-Studio Halle/AFP)
An armed man believed to be gunman Stephan Balliet, on a street in Halle, Germany, during a shooting outside a synagogue in that city which killed two, October 9, 2019. (Screenshot/Andreas Splett/ATV-Studio Halle/AFP)

German lawmakers say police lost track for an hour of a far-right extremist who killed two people after a failed attack on a synagogue.

Germany’s dpa news agency quoted regional lawmakers in Saxony-Anhalt state as saying on Monday that it was two officers in a small town who eventually arrested the gunman, not the SWAT teams that were hunting him.

German security services have come under scrutiny over their response to the shooting last Wednesday in the eastern city of Halle after Jewish community leaders said requests for police protection were ignored.

The 27-year-old German gunman, Stephan Balliet, was arrested in Zeitz, located about 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of Halle.

Authorities say he has admitted carrying out the shooting and had anti-Semitic and right-wing extremist motives.

An armed man fires on a street in Halle, Germany, following a shooting outside a synagogue in that city which killed two. (Screenshot/Andreas Splett/ATV-Studio Halle/AFP)

Last Wednesday morning as Yom Kippur was underway, a terrified group of about 50 worshipers barricaded themselves inside the synagogue in Halle, as suspect Balliet allegedly tried and failed to blast his way in with gunshots and explosives.

Stephan Balliet (Screengrab)

Authorities say he had intended to commit a “massacre” with his “act of terror.”

When his initial plan was thwarted, he shot and killed two people nearby, seemingly chosen at random.

He then escaped in his car, but was wounded during a shootout with police and eventually arrested.

Police officers cross a wall at a crime scene in Halle, Germany, October 9, 2019 after a shooting incident (Sebastian Willnow/dpa via AP)

On Friday, German federal prosecutors said Balliet admitted to the shooting rampage and confessed that it was motivated by anti-Semitism and right-wing extremism.

A video made by the assailant shows him launching into a diatribe against women and Jews and denying the Holocaust, before beginning the attack.

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