German synagogue shooter livestreamed deadly attack, including anti-Semitic rant

Twitch platform says suspect uploaded video of attack; media reports assailant is 27-year-old German man ‘Stephan B’; interior minister confirms motive of Jew hatred

Armed 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)
Armed 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)

Livestreaming site Twitch said Wednesday that video of the deadly shooting attack in Germany targeting a synagogue on Yom Kippur was broadcast live on its platform by the suspected killer.

Twitch said in a statement it had “worked with urgency” to remove the content after the attack in which two people were killed in the eastern German town of Halle.

The company added that any account found to be posting or reposting “content of this abhorrent act” would be permanently suspended.

The SITE monitoring group said an attacker appeared to have posted a 35-minute long video showing his ammunition and saying in English that the “root of all problems are the Jews.”

In the video, the gunman is heard making far-right talking points and can be seen driving to the synagogue. He identified himself in the video as “Anon,” was alone, and driving a car loaded with weapons, a laptop and a camera, SITE’s director Rita Katz wrote on Twitter.

The attack appears to resemble the March shootings of mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, which killed 51. That shooter livestreamed first-person video footage of the attack with commentary and targeted houses of worship.

Germany’s top security official described the Wednesday shooting in the city of Halle as an anti-Semitic attack.

Jewish worshippers are escorted to a bus outside a Jewish synagogue in Halle, Germany, on Yom Kippur, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019., where two people were shot dead. (AP Photo Jens Meyer)

“According to what we now know we have to assume that it was at least an anti-Semitic attack,” Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said in a statement. “According to the federal prosecutor there are sufficient indications for a possible right-wing extremist motive.”

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, August 29, 2018. (Michael Sohn/AP)

Seehofer confirmed that a “heavily armed perpetrator” tried to force his way into a synagogue in the eastern German city on Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest day.

According to German news magazine Der Spiegel, the attacker is a 27-year-old man from the state of Saxony-Anhalt. He was partially identified in some media reports as “Stephan B.”

Media reports said he is a far-right extremist and self-described anti-Semite and Holocaust denier.

At least two people were shot dead on a street in Halle on Wednesday. A woman was said to have been killed near the synagogue, and a man was killed in a Turkish kebab shop, a police spokesperson told the BBC.

A screen capture from the live stream posted by the attacker as he tries to shoot his way through the locked synagogue door in Helle on October 9, 2019.

Several people were injured in the attack, with two people hospitalized in serious condition.

Max Privorotzki, who heads the Jewish community in Halle, told Spiegel Online that the perpetrators had apparently sought to enter the synagogue in the Paulus district but security measures in place helped to “withstand the attack.”

He added that between 70 and 80 people were in the synagogue at the time.

A body lies on a road in Halle, Germany, Oct. 9, 2019 after a shooting incident. (Sebastian Willnow/dpa via AP)

One suspect was captured but with a manhunt ongoing for other perpetrators, security has been tightened in synagogues in other eastern German cities while Halle itself was in lockdown.

Police said the “perpetrators fled in a car,” adding later that one suspect had been caught.

An unauthenticated video circulating in German media showed a man wearing a helmet getting out of a vehicle before firing several shots in the air.

The Halle attack appears to be the latest in a wave of racially and religiously motivated crimes against Jews to rock Germany in recent years. Germany’s domestic intelligence agency reported last month that the number of anti-Semitic acts of violence rose sharply last year alongside a further increase in those identified as far-right extremists.

The BfV agency said in its annual report that incidents of anti-Semitic violence increased by 71.4 percent in 2018 to 48, from 28 the previous year.

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