COLOGNE (AP). – A woman armed with 16 pistols fatally shot a 49-year-old professor and wounded the director of Cologne University’s Martin Buber Institute of Jewish Studies, police reported yesterday.
The shooting occurred on Tuesday afternoon, but was announced by the police only after professor Hermann Greive, an expert on Theodor Herzl, died yesterday morning in a Cologne hospital.
The 32-year-old assailant, identified only as Sabine G., was a student at the institute. She was held for murder and two counts of attempted murder.
Dieter Fricke chief of the Cologne police homicide division, said the motive for the shooting was under investigation. He told reporters yesterday that the woman had not given a statement to police.
The assailant took a master’s degree in philosophy and Jewish studies at the institute two years ago and had worked since then as an archivist at Cologne University, police said.
Police sources said earlier that investigators were probing reports of a possible religious conflict between the woman and the professor.
Greive was shot in the left temple while giving a course in basic Hebrew to 12 students.
Fricke said the woman then ran out into the hallway and fired at institute director Johann Maier, 51, when he tried to intervene. The shot grazed his skull, and he was able to overpower her after she fired at and missed another professor in the hallway.
Maier, who is one of Europe’s best-known experts on Judaism, was treated at a hospital for the wound and released.
In addition to the murder weapon, police confiscated 11 more muzzle-loader pistols from a toilet at the institute. The weapons, calibre 35 to 45 millimetres, were found in four plastic bags and a briefcase.
The police found five more muzzleloaders and a gas pistol in a van parked outside the institute. They said the assailant had rented the vehicle.
The pistols – replicas of old weapons – can be purchased in sporting-goods stores and do not require a licence. The police said a Cologne dealer said the woman bought several of the pistols at his shop last week.
A psychiatric examination of the assailant yesterday morning failed to turn up evidence that she was mentally deranged, the Cologne prosecutor’s office said.
A political motive in the shooting has been ruled out, the office said.
Police sources said the woman was living alone following a divorce.
She was believed to be Jewish, but it was not clear if her parents are Jews or whether she adopted the religion, the sources said.
They said the woman reportedly had complained to fellow students about non-Jewish professors‘ teaching at the Institute. Neither Greive nor Maier are Jewish, the sources said.
Itim last night identified the woman suspected in the slaying as Sabine Gerhardt, aged 32.
Quoting Kol Yisrael radio’s correspondent in Bonn, ltim said Gerhardt was a convert to Judaism and had studied in Israel.
One of Gerhardt’s grandmothers was Jewish and her parents were Christians.