The German neo-Nazi gunman who killed two people in Halle, Germany, on Yom Kippur and tried to storm a synagogue was using homemade weapons that repeatedly jammed.
The 35 minutes of livestream footage of the assault that he posted showed him attempting to fire on three further occasions directly at victims, but failing to do so because of weapons failure. “I can’t kill shit,” said the gunman, named as Stephan Balliet, 27, at one point.
The footage, together with a manifesto that he had posted earlier on the Kohlchan message board, indicates that he deliberately timed the attack for Yom Kippur.
Driving to the Halle synagogue, although there was no security outside, he was discouraged to find the main doors bolted shut, attempted to enter via smaller entrances, fired and threw two homemade bombs at the door, but ultimately failed to gain entry.
“It was more luck than careful planning,” said Elad Simhayov, an Israel Channel 12 reporter, standing Thursday next to the door that had held firm. “He fired at it, kicked it… I can see the bullet holes. It’s hard to believe” that this wooden door prevented “what could have been a massacre of dozens.”
Thwarted, the gunman shot a woman dead in the street outside, and, minutes later, killed a man at a kebab shop nearby.
According to a Guardian report Thursday, the Kohlchan “mission statement” and the livestream footage indicate that Balliet “hoped his attack would inspire other white people to kill more Jewish people,” as well as others he considered “enemies of the white race, including Muslim people, black people, anti-fascists, and communists.”
He used several homemade firearms and hand grenades in the attack, including a so-called Luty submachine gun, named after a British pro-gun activist named Philip Luty, the Guardian reported, who was facing terrorism charges for manuals he had published showing how to build firearms when he died of cancer eight years ago.
“I have certainly managed to prove how absurd improvised weapons are,” the Halle gunman said at one point in his video.
The attack stoked renewed concerns about rising far-right extremism in Germany and questions about the police response.
The gunman was outside the synagogue for over five minutes, the Guardian calculated, “during which time he shot and killed a passerby, without being approached by law enforcement.”
Inside the synagogue, some 70-80 worshipers watched the attacker’s attempts to penetrate the building on the security cameras. “We barricaded our doors from inside and waited for the police,” Jewish community leader Max Privorozki told Stuttgarter Zeitung. “In between, we carried on with our service.”
The attack was streamed live for 35 minutes on Twitch, and eventually seen by some 2,200 people, the online platform said. Bild described the gunman as a neo-Nazi loner with no friends who spent days in front of his computer.
The livestream footage shows the close-shaved, youthful face of a man” who is “preparing to commit a violent assault against a synagogue that will devolve into a random, blundering search for fresh targets, AFP reported Wednesday night.
In a heavy German accent, he hurriedly babbles a brief anti-Semitic diatribe, denying the Holocaust and blaming Jews for being “at the root of problems” in Western societies.
Then the shooter readies an apparently homemade shotgun before driving the short distance to the synagogue, blasting hip-hop over a bluetooth speaker.
I’m a fucking idiot
Parking in the leafy street by the high brick wall of the Jewish cemetery, the man who introduced himself as “Anon” is discouraged when he sees the massive wooden synagogue doors bolted shut.
When he fails to barge open smaller entrances, he lights the fuse of a homemade bomb and hurls it over the wall.
A shocked old man in a cap hurriedly turns his bicycle away as the shooter walks from the explosion.
After the door resists another bomb, a 50-something woman in a pink shirt, light scarf and glasses walks by, grumbling at the bizarrely dressed attacker but apparently almost unfazed.
He levels an automatic weapon and fires a short burst into her back.
Further efforts to force the door prove useless, and after pitching more bombs and a Molotov cocktail over the wall, he fires another, longer burst into the lifeless body of the woman lying by his car.
“Pig!” he shouts, before realizing he has punctured a tire.
The automatic weapon lets the killer down when a man stops his van soon after to check on the dead woman.
Attempting to fire a new burst, the gun only clicks and he fumbles to change the magazine.
When the frightened passerby has driven off, his attempts to blast the lock off the synagogue door with a shotgun are equally unsuccessful.
“Sorry guys. I’m a fucking idiot. I can’t kill shit,” he tells his imagined viewers in English as he drives away.
A few streets away, the gunman spots a kebab shop and pulls up, grabbing his cobbled-together arsenal. “Doener. That’ll do,” he says under his breath.
He tosses one of the bombs inside, firing a final burst with the automatic before it jams for good.
Several men flee from the plush red-upholstered benches into the depths of the store.
From the shooter’s perspective, there is more wrestling with weapons and cursing as he attempts to harm the men cowering at the back of the shop, who are pleading for their lives.
Cartridges rattle onto the floor from his seemingly inept fingers.
After briefly stepping outside and scaring pedestrians, he returns to the shop where he executes one of the men at point-blank range with two shotgun blasts, cutting off his cry of “No!”
“At least I’ve demonstrated how useless improvised weapons are,” he mutters to himself and the camera on his way out.
The police cut off his first attempt at escape in the car, and he exchanges fire with them before falling to the ground for several seconds, struck by a bullet as he attempted to drive off.
“I’m bleeding, I’ve been shot in the neck,” he says once he is underway again, groaning with pain and grimacing in the moments his face is visible.
“Sorry guys, that was it. A total loser…” the killer says, before tossing the still-broadcasting smartphone out of the window.