Manslaughter guilty verdict for dad of school shooter

Jodi - posted on 02/10/2011 ( 20 moms have responded )

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A German court has handed down a 21-month suspended jail sentence to the father of a teenager who shot dead 15 people before killing himself at his old school in 2009.

Joerg Kretschmer, a 52-year-old businessman, was found guilty of manslaughter and of breaking gun laws.

His son Tim, 17, was able to take his father's 9mm Beretta pistol in March 2009 and use it in his killing spree in the southern town of Winnenden.

Fearing a break-in, Joerg Kretschmer kept his gun by the bedside, rather than locking it away, a mistake the court said cost the lives of nine of Tim's fellow students, three teachers and three others.

Presiding judge Reiner Skujat said the father had failed in his duty to keep the weapon in a secure place and knew that he son was "psychologically unstable."

Nevertheless, the judge stressed that the father was not on trial for the crimes of his son. "The accused is only a fraction as guilty as his son," he said.

Mitigating the sentence in the judge's view was the fact that Kretschmer had cooperated with the court and expressed regret.

The prosecution had argued for a two-year suspended sentence, whereas the defence had said that he had already suffered enough with the loss of his son and the knowledge of what he had done.

Kretschmer "will have to suffer his whole life knowing he was the father of a mass murderer," said Skujat.

As the trial opened, he offered a partial apology to the victims' families, saying he "often asked himself how this could have happened" and that it was a "huge human failing" that he had not realised how disturbed his son was.

But this statement was read out by his lawyer and Kretschmer himself did not speak during the trial, a strategy the judge criticised as "strange and offensive" for the families of the victims.

"The question of how a 17-year-old could become a mass murderer and why all the warning signals were ignored remains unanswered," said the judge.

Kretschmer's lawyer, Hans Steffan, said his client would appeal the verdict but was relieved that the sentence was suspended.

The massacre was the worst school shooting in Germany since April 2002, when 19-year-old Robert Steinhaeuser, a disgruntled pupil from Erfurt in eastern Germany who had been expelled, killed 16 people and then himself.

http://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/-/world...

So, do you think a manslaughter charge goes far enough, and that this sentence is fair? What do you think of the parent of a minor involved in a shooting being charged for the crime? After all it was his gun. Should ANYONE whose guns are obtained because of lack of compliance with safe storage whose guns are then used to commit a crime be charged with that crime? Other thoughts?

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Sarah - posted on 02/11/2011

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I think he should totally be held accountable for not keeping his gun locked away in a safe place!

Perhaps if more cases like this occur, then more people will think twice about just leaving their weapons lying around.

What if a 7yr old boy HAD been at that house, visiting or something? Would you all feel differently if that 7yr old boy and killed himself accidently or someone else?

If you're going to own a gun, surely it's your responsibility to make sure it's kept securely?

Sherri - posted on 02/11/2011

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I think it is very fair. Yes those who are not in compliance with safe storage should be charged.

Jodi - posted on 02/11/2011

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Leaving a gun out, is, IMO, equivalent to pulling a trigger.



Research has shown that incidents such as this are unlikely to occur in the event that the perpetrator cannot readily obtain a gun.



Officials have spoken at length to a man here in Australia who went on a killing spree years ago, and he has indicated that had he not had ready access to the weapons he used on that day, then he doesn't believe he would have done it. It was a split second decision he made, and it killed and injured a lot of people. This particular incident was the beginning of our gun laws to control access to weapons.



Further, limiting access to automatic and semi-automatic weapons will mean fewer mass killings. Maybe one or two people may have been killed, but it is unlikely, if people don't have ready access to these weapons, that a mass number of people would die in a single incident.



So yeah, this father was totally irresponsible and deserved the charges against him.

[deleted account]

I agree that if people are going to keep guns in their homes they should follow the laws and make sure they are locked up sufficiently, if this mans gun was locked up properly and his son used it he would not be getting charged. The fact is he didn't lock it up and his son killed 15 people with it. Yes if this child didn't have access to a gun he may well have still killed people using something else such as a kitchen knife, but would he have been able to kill 15 people? Things like knives are much easier to escape from then guns because the person using it has to be so much closer to stab you then they do to shoot you (and if they were to throw their knife they have most probably lost it and so can't use it again), and people are more likely to survive from a stab wound than a gun shot wound.

The father in his neglect of the gun laws did commit manslaughter and so he should definately be punished for it. He isn't getting punished for his sons crimes but for his own neglect of the law!

Mary - posted on 02/11/2011

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I agree with this wholeheartedly. Although it could be argued that a 17 y/o is almost an adult, and could most likely find a gun somewhere else on his own, the fact is he did use his father's gun, which was not properly secured.



I mostly applaud this because of the message it sends out to all parents who feel the need to keep guns in their home about the critical importance of securing firearms.

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Tracey - posted on 02/13/2011

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Can I ask those of you who have guns in the home at what age did your children become aware there were guns in the home, where they were kept, where the keys to any gun lockers were and how to use them?
Not criticising anyone, just curious.

Krissy - posted on 02/11/2011

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You know, parents need to pay if their children damage some one's window, right?

So... is this type of situation different?

But, at the same time, we aren't held accountable as a criminal for our kids breaking a window, we are only held accountable to pay for the damages... we aren't charged with our kids' crime...

Perhaps the dad should be held accountable for the damages and for leaving the gun out, but for pulling the trigger???

Becky - posted on 02/11/2011

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I would love to see more parents held accountable for the actions of their children! This may be an unpopular view, but I think that very often, when children go wrong, the parents are partially to blame. In this case, it sounds like he failed to get his son help that he needed. And he left a gun where it was accessible. That's just stupid. I don't care if you have no children at all, you shouldn't do that.

Tara - posted on 02/11/2011

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Those are the "rules" in Canada but they are often disobeyed, often by a minority of dipshits, but for the most part we Canadians own a lot of guns but have far fewer gun related killings and violence, and most crimes that are perpetrated using a gun are done so with stolen or illegally purchased guns, not registered properly stored guns.

Tara - posted on 02/11/2011

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I believe that if you must own a gun (which I think should only be the case if you are a hunter for food or have a career that requires you to own a gun) it should be locked in a cabinet and the key should be placed in a place where it can't be accessed by anyone except the owner of the gun. Anything else is criminal.
Yes I believe that adults who do not store their weapons according to the laws in place should be held accountable for any action that results from that decision.

Sarah - posted on 02/11/2011

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I'm sure at 17 he would have found away to get the gun if he was dead set on getting it. But why not make it that little bit harder by locking it away?

Also, whose to say that he didn't happen to see the gun lying there, and it gave him the idea?!?
Perhaps if it had been locked away, he never would have done it. It could have been a spur of the moment thing.

I still maintain that leaving a gun lying around is irresponsible, and that he should be held accountable for that. :)

[deleted account]

yeah i definitly think that if he was 7 that yes it is the fathers fault, but the guy was 17 therefore i think he should be fully accountable. what if he locked it in a draw but didnt hide the key? a 7 year old probably wouldnt get in, but the 17 year old still would

[deleted account]

I think this is wrong. The guy was 17, not 7. He is responsible for his own actions. It's hard to judge though because we dont know exactly how mentally unstable the boy was

Tracey - posted on 02/11/2011

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Why were all the warning signs ignored, even if the family didn't recognise them surely the school could have recommended medical attention?

In UK anyone found with a gun not securely stored has a statutory sentence of 5 years in prison, even if they have licence to keep it, don't know about German gun laws.

Should anyone be charged with a crime if their gun is used, what about if their home is broken into and the gun stolen?

If this kid was so unstable he would have killed people anyway, even if he couldn't get a gun.

Stifler's - posted on 02/10/2011

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Mentally disturbed or not, how is it not his fault if the minor has access to a gun lying around in his bedside table?

Katherine - posted on 02/10/2011

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The father should have kept the gun locked up, but how was he to foresee such a tragedy?
The "minor" was barely a minor. He was 17. I think they needed someone to blame and the father was the unfortunate victim.

Lacye - posted on 02/10/2011

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Even though they said he wasn't on trial for his son's crime, he really was and that's just sad. The man really didn't know how disturbed his son was. He probably didn't think his son was capable of doing something like that. I don't think he should have been on trial in the first place because his son stole his gun. He didn't stand in the kitchen that day and tell him, "here's my gun son. Make sure after you kill all those people that you kill yourself as well." It's just ridiculous.

Stifler's - posted on 02/10/2011

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It's good that they threw the book at him for this. There is obviously a lot of slackness regarding guns in the homes of the kids that go around shooting other students and themselves. They should never have access to a gun.

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