Rampage in Lörrach/Germany: The injured Baptists
Lörrach – The shooting rampage of a woman in the south German city of Lörrach left four dead and 18 injured, including two Baptists. It can be considered a miracle that both Pastor Jürgen Exner and a church member, Ernst Barth, were not seriously injured.
The two were preparing for a grill party on the grounds of the Baptist church on 19 September when they heard an explosion nearby. They ran to the location in hopes of offering aid. The 48-year-old pastor was one of the first to arrive. On the sidewalk in front of a burning house he chanced upon a woman who seemed to be acting strangely. She reached into her purse and pulled out a pistol. Exner recalls the grin on her face as she pointed the weapon at him and fired. In a reflex action, he turned away from her and felt a smack on his back. He ran after the woman and called to passers-by that the woman was armed.
Fifty metres away, Ernst Barth (69) failed to notice the shot. He saw the woman and attempted to stop her. ‘Throw the gun away!’ he screamed. Instead, the woman stopped briefly, pointed her weapon at his forehead from a distance of only six metres, and fired.
Police later reported that a broken relationship was the apparent cause of the crime. A barrister, who had separated herself from her husband and child in June, killed her husband and their five-year-old son in her office, where she had also been living. Following the deed, she set the building on fire and ran across the street to St. Elisabeth Hospital, where she killed a male nurse. She had more than 300 shots of ammunition with her.
Barth and Exner were admitted to Lörrach’s regional hospital, with Barth being released the very next day. The bullet had only entered his skin – not the skull. Had the bullet passed through two centimetres deeper, he would have been killed. Exner was operated on the day following admission. The projectile had travelled 11 centimetres into his back and just barely missed the spine. No vital organs were injured. Exner was able to return home after only three days of hospitalisation.
The two Baptists feel no wrath towards the woman, who in the end was shot and killed by the police within St. Elisabeth Hospital. Barth told European Baptist Press Service: ‘She too was a creation of God.’ Yet she was apparently ‘completely at the end of herself and no longer knew backwards from forwards. I cannot condemn her.’ Exner stressed that even in this extreme situation he had felt the hand of God.
The grill party at church that day was cancelled. But it is to be repeated later – as a feast of thanksgiving. ‘We have experienced God’s protection,' both Exner and Barth declared.