German synagogue shooting: Gunman unleashed antisemitic rant before attack
10 October 2019, 10:49 | Updated: 10 October 2019, 12:05
A gunman launched an antisemitic rant before attacking a German synagogue and killing two people nearby in a livestreamed rampage, it has emerged.
The deadly assault in the eastern city of Halle on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, had chilling echoes of the New Zealand mosque shootings.
A video circulating online showed a shaven-headed man making a short diatribe to camera in which he denied the Holocaust and also blamed the Jews for mass immigration.
During the subsequent attack, footage of which was streamed on Amazon's video gaming platform Twitch, the masked assailant shot at the door of the synagogue as he attempted to force his way inside, where up to 80 worshippers were observing the holy day.
After failing to gain entry, he shot dead a woman in the street before entering a kebab shop and gunning down another person.
Two other people were also injured although their condition was not said to be critical.
The gunman, who fled the scene, was detained a short time later.
The suspect has been named in the German media as 27-year-old Stephan Balliet.
The video of the attack has drawn comparisons with the armed rampage by a far-right white supremacist in March, which left 51 dead at two mosques in Christchurch, that was livestreamed on Facebook.
It also follows attacks in the US over the past year on synagogues in Pittsburgh and Poway, California.
Meanwhile, a prominent Jewish leader has accused the German authorities of failing to provide adequate security at the synagogue targeted by the gunman.
Josef Schuster, president of the council of Germany's Jewish community, said: "If police had been stationed outside the synagogue, then this man could have been disarmed before he could attack the others."
Most Jewish buildings in Germany's large cities have a near-permanent police guard due to sporadic antisemitic attacks by both far-right activists and Islamist militants.
Mr Shuster said while it was normal practice for all synagogues to have security while services were being held, this appeared not to be the case in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, where Halle is located.
However, the head of Germany's police union questioned the practicality of providing that level of protection.
Oliver Malchow also defended police in Halle who took 15 minutes to reach the synagogue.
He said: "This shows how thin the level of police coverage is. Nobody is holding back... it probably wasn't possible to be quicker."
Security was stepped up at synagogues in other cities after the shooting.
In the wake of the attack, German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited a synagogue in Berlin in a show of solidarity.
(c) Sky News 2019: German synagogue shooting: Gunman unleashed antisemitic rant before attack