Sociopathic Pranksters Foil German Police Investigation

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Prank News

German police try to determine if they were duped
by Vanessa Gera
1010WINS
March 13, 2009

internetcafe200Winnenden, Germany (AP) — German police worked with U.S. authorities Friday to determine if they had fallen victim to an Internet hoax as they investigate a school shooting in southern Germany that killed 15 people.

Tim Kretschmer, 17, gunned down students at his former high school in Winnenden Wednesday before fleeing on foot and by car, killing three more people, and eventually turning a 9-millimeter Beretta pistol on himself.

Investigators said Thursday that Kretschmer had posted his intentions in an Internet chat room only hours beforehand, but they now say they have serious doubts about the authenticity of the posting.

Police spokeswoman Brigitte Wahl said Friday that investigators were working with officials in the United States, where the servers that host the German-language Web site are located, but did not expect to clear up the mystery quickly.

“It could take a while,” she said.

Police said they were alerted to the purported Internet threat after the attack, and released a transcript of the chat at a news conference. But later in the day, after the site itself claimed the posting was fraudulent, they searched Kretschmer’s computer and found no trace of it in the computer’s history, police spokesman Klaus Hinderer said.

Police, meanwhile, said the spotlight inspired copycat threats that sprang up in at least three towns on Friday morning.

“It’s clear that after this case drew such huge media attention, other impersonators are trying to copycat that,” said police spokesman Thomas Maile.

In a town near Duesseldorf, northwest of Winnenden, police said they arrested a 17-year-old student Friday who allegedly told his fellow students he was planning an attack on his high school.

During a search of his home in the town of Ennepetal, police said they found instructions for how to make explosives and a “chemical substance” that could have been used in the process. No further details were immediately available.

In the town of Ilsfeld, northeast of Winnenden near Heilbronn, police sealed off a high school early Friday after learning of a threat posted in an Internet chat room, said police spokesman Roberto Monaci. Authorities found nothing immediately in their search of the school.

And in the northern state of Lower Saxony, police arrested a 21-year-old man near the town of Soltau who threatened in an Internet chat room to kill 16 people at a school. Police spokesman Peter Hoppe said the man turned out to possess no weapons and claimed to have just been having fun. They plan to charge him with disturbing the public peace.

In Winnenden, residents mourned and expressed shock that a bloody rampage could take place in their small and peaceful town. Read the rest of this article here.