The so-called Graz gunman Alen R. is said to have been found dead in his cell at the Stein prison (JA) on Saturday morning. Prison guards found the 33-year-old lifeless in his solitary cell during a routine morning check, the “Krone” reported. “We can confirm that a suicide occurred in Stein Prison,” the Justice Ministry said. At the same time, a department media spokeswoman asked “for your understanding that we cannot communicate any further details about the incident for data protection reasons.” Of course, “every incident will be examined.” All employees of the prison guard were offered the opportunity to use the psychological service, it was said.
Leave a farewell letter
Alen R. is said to have left a farewell letter. This is now being examined by the authorities. In it he is said to have stated, among other things, that he was “innocent”.
Almost exactly six years ago – on September 29, 2016 – Alen R. was sentenced to life imprisonment in the Graz regional court for multiple murders and dozens of attempted murders and was sent to an institution for mentally abnormal criminals. On June 20, 2015, he killed three people, including a four-year-old child, with an off-road vehicle in Graz’s Herrengasse. Dozens of people were seriously injured.
The shooting spree in Graz on June 20, 2015
On June 20, 2015, one of the worst amok attacks in the history of the Second Republic took place in Graz. At 12:15 p.m., the then 26-year-old began his crazy ride on Zweiglgasse. There he rammed pedestrians – one died. He then attacked people with a knife in front of a supermarket, raced into Herrengasse and injured around 50 passers-by with his car – two of whom died, including a four-year-old boy.
After driving through Herrengasse, Alen R. drove his off-road vehicle across the main square – where a large event had just taken place – into Schmiedgasse, where he stopped his off-road vehicle in front of a police station at around 12:21 p.m. Two police officers got the man out of the car with pistols drawn.
Pedestrians saved themselves at the last second
Hundreds of rescue and police personnel were on duty for hours on that sunny Saturday, caring for the injured after the rampage. Several pedestrians barely survived because they were only able to save themselves at the last second by fleeing into alcoves or shops. The identity of one of the victims, the woman in front of the town parish church, remained unclear for weeks.
On the evening of the shooting, around 500 mourners gathered at a memorial mass in the Graz parish church, in front of whose entrance Alen R. had also raced past. Afterwards, thousands of people came to Herrengasse after dark and lit a sea of candles. A good week after the crime, a funeral march was held – again with thousands of participants.
Controversy over sanity
From September 2016, the perpetrator had to answer in court for his rampage, which lasted just a few minutes. A controversy arose about his sanity. The jury found him guilty and he was sent to an institution for mentally abnormal offenders. Most recently he was housed in a special ward in the Stein prison.
Are you in a desperate situation and need help? Talk to other people about it. The Ministry of Health’s suicide prevention portal offers help for people with suicidal thoughts and their relatives. Contact details for aid organizations in Austria can be found at www.suizid-praevention.gv.at.
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