Students tell of crazed gunman

THE teenager who shot dead 17 people, including himself, in one of the world's worst school massacres was a loner with a fascination for Satanism and the occult.

Nineteen-year-old Robert Steinhaeuser, recently expelled from the Gutenberg school in the eastern German city of Erfurt, returned on Friday to seek bloody revenge.

"I saw him in the corridor, and all I could see were burning eyes, bulging eyes, aflame with hatred," student Kerstin Guebler, 17, said yesterday.

Dressed in all-black ninja gear and armed with a pump-action shotgun and a handgun, Steinhaeuser coolly targeted teachers and anyone who stood in his way.

Police were alerted to the massacre, on Friday night, Sydney time, by a caretaker and a 13-year-old girl who text-messaged her mother on her mobile phone: "Gunman shoots here many dead me safe call cops".

Students who knew the gunman said Steinhaeuser, who had been expelled for misbehaviour and conflicts with teachers, craved attention and boasted of attending Satanic rituals.

"I remember him saying: 'One day, I want everyone to know my name and I want to be famous'," former schoolmate Isabell Hartung said.

Another student told of how Steinhaeuser stood just 3m from him, firing his shotgun.

"We saw a teacher fall to the ground, and we turned and ran," he said. "He was opening classroom doors and aiming at the teachers."

Klara Uhse, 14, who hid under a desk as Steinhaeuser fired into her room, said: "It was a nightmare: first the shots, then the moans of people being hit."