Heidelberg University“We are shocked and shaken” – Sympathy and Solidarity from all over the World

25 January 2022

Rector of Heidelberg University: “Ruperto Carola as a community resists this attack on our academic self-understanding”

“With immense gratitude we are receiving an overwhelming number of expressions and signs of sympathy, solidarity and condolence, pouring in to our university from all over the world after the terrible events on Monday. The academic community is profoundly shocked and shaken by an incomprehensible deed,” stated Prof. Dr Bernhard Eitel, Rector of Ruperto Carola. “In a university lecture hall, a place of learning, exchange and encounter, a student started firing at his fellow students, killed a fellow student and injured others, also threatening teachers present.” The members of the university, said the Rector, joined the relatives in mourning the death of the 23-year-old victim. “For Ruperto Carola this expression of violence, this attack on human life, is also an attack on our academic self-understanding, which we will resolutely resist as a community.” It will take time, places and encounters to work through the events, he added, both for those directly and those indirectly affected. Heidelberg University was offering support, accompaniment and counselling in various forms.

Regarding the events on Monday

According to the report of the competent police headquarters in Mannheim, an 18-year-old student entered a lecture hall shortly before 12.30 pm at the Im Neuenheimer Feld campus, in which about 30 students were attending a tutorial, and without any warning started firing with a long gun. He injured four students – three women and a man. One woman, aged 23, died of serious injuries at Heidelberg University Hospital that same afternoon. After carrying out the attack, the perpetrator fled outside and took his own life, close to the Botanical Garden. He was a biosciences student whose motives, according to the police, are still unclear. The event took place in the building (INF 360) of the Centre for Organismal Studies, which is one of the central research institutions of Heidelberg University. After receiving several emergency calls, the police were on the spot soon afterwards. Over 400 police officers, including special forces, were deployed on the scene. Action was closely coordinated between the responsible police headquarters and the university leadership. Accompanying the communication by the police, Heidelberg University informed the public on its website and via social media that, after the suicide of the perpetrator, there was no further danger on site, according to police reports.

Statement from COS

For the Centre for Organismal Studies, managing director Prof. Dr Jan Lohmann reports: “We are shaken to the core, perturbed, and grieving deeply for the victim. But we are also with the many people who were directly or indirectly affected by this terrible deed: those injured and participants in the course, our friends and colleagues in INF 360, some of whom directly witnessed the crime, as well as the students of the year, to which the victims and the perpetrator belonged.” In view of such a situation that is actually unthinkable, space must be given to our grief, our fear, and our disbelief. Prof. Lohmann adds: “It is also clear that we actively oppose any form of violence and that we will not restrict the freedom and openness that makes up our community.”

Psychological Accompaniment and Support

It is a central concern of the university to offer comprehensive psychological accompaniment and support. The university leadership has already made arrangements for this. Information is available on a separate webpage.

Memorial Service

The university intends to hold a memorial service in the University Church, St Peter’s, where those responsible are currently making preparations for it. The service will take place next Monday around midday and will be transmitted via livestream. More information will follow.