Martin Peyerl (August 11, 1983 to November
1, 1999) was a German student. On November 1, 1999 (the day of All
Saints), firing from his bedroom window, he killed four people and
wounded seven others before committing suicide.
Born to Rudolf and Theresa Peyerl on August 11,
1983, Martin Peyerl and his sister Daniela lived with their parents on
a busy street in Bad Reichenhall, Germany.
On November 1, 1999, his parents left the house to
visit the grave of one of Peyerl's grandparents in Piden, something
they typically did on All-Saints Day. Martin did not go with them.
Instead, in their absence he broke into his father’s
gun cabinet- which contained more than ten firearms- positioned
himself in his bedroom window, and began shooting at anything that
moved. Peyerl killed neighbors Ruth and Horst Zillenbiller, then a 54-year
old patient at the hospital across the street, who had stepped outside
to smoke. Eight others were ultimately wounded, among them actor
Günter Lamprecht. Martin's sister, a nanny at the hospital across the
street, came home around noon. Peyerl shot her five times, killing her.
He then fatally shot the family cat, sat down in a bathtub and
committed suicide with a single blast from a shotgun.
No clear motive has been found for Peyerl’s actions.
Peyerl’s status as an outsider at school, and that he had an alcoholic
father at home who was frequently unemployed, have been regarded as
possible influences. Peyerl was an avid gun enthusiast and frequently
purchased gun magazines. He told classmates that he sometimes went to
the forest looking for birds "to shoot" and sometimes practiced
shooting with his father in the garage. Rudolf Peyerl, a twelve-year
veteran of the German Army, was himself enthusiastic about firearms,
owning as many as nineteen. A few months prior to November 1, Martin
was temporarily expelled from school because of Nazi photographs
pasted in his notebook.
Neighbors said that Peyerl was a normal albeit
introverted boy, but a psychiatrist who was involved in this case
spoke of a loser type. Descriptions of Martin by former classmates
were strikingly similar to descriptions given by classmates of Eric
Harris and Dylan Klebold. He is said to have been a shy loner who
preferred playing video games over talking to people. One classmate,
Stefanie Hocheder, said "Martin was always nice", but that he was
largely ignored and rarely had anything to say. Another said Martin
was "a bit of a right-wing".
Given the similarities between the shooters at
Columbine and Martin Peyerl and the short amount of time between their
respective rampages, it is possible Peyerl was influenced by the
massacre at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. Martin commented
one day leading up to November 1, 1999 that it was "completely crazy
what these guys have done" and that he believed Harris' and Klebold's
actions to be "something we should do". Police stormed the house at
6pm on November 1, and finding the bodies of Daniela and Martin Peyerl
along with the cat. An enormous swastika was painted above Peyerl’s
bed; in his room were a number of additional painted swastikas and
other Nazi symbols. A number of videos and CDs with violent content
were also discovered. A portrait of Adolf Hitler hung above the bed of
Numerous politicians in Germany called for changes
in German firearm legislation following Peyerl's indiscriminate
shooting on November 1, 1999. Rudolf and Theresa Peyerl were
interviewed as witnesses by police shortly after, and the German
Kriminalpolizei started an investigation. Wolfgang Giese, head of the
investigation, denied the chance that drugs, alcohol, or extreme right-wing
ideology were behind Peyerl's actions, saying those things played "no
role". Instead, Giese asserted, the problem was "in the personality of
Investigators concluded that Martin Peyerl, like
Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, did not commit murder-suicide as a
spontaneous act, but likely planned his actions well in advance.
Peyerl left behind no journal or videos as the Columbine killers did,
however, leaving his actions for the most part a mystery. Despite this,
investigators remained certain that Peyerl's own death was as much a
part of whatever plan he devised as the indiscriminate shooting of
Murders weapon, Ruger Mini-14 Government rifle.