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Other News: Fatal Shootings in Alabama, Germany

March 11, 2009 at 6:15 PM EDT
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GWEN IFILL: In other news today, investigators in southern Alabama searched for a motive in the state’s worst mass shooting ever. Twenty-eight-year-old Michael McLendon killed 10 people, including his mother and four other relatives, on Tuesday afternoon, before killing himself.

The hour-long rampage stretched across three towns near the Florida border. Authorities said it’s a mystery what triggered the former factory worker to open fire with a heavy arsenal.

TROOPER KEVIN COOK, spokesman, Alabama Department of Public Safety: We have identified that in 2003 he was briefly employed as a police officer in Sampson, but failed to complete required train at the police academy in Montgomery. He had no known criminal record.

McLendon was armed with two assault rifles, an SKS and a Bushmaster, using high-capacity magazines taped together, a shotgun, and a .38-caliber handgun. At this time, we believe that he fired in excess of 200 rounds during the assaults.

GWEN IFILL: Police did find what they called a “revenge list” at McLendon’s home. They said it included people he had worked with and, they said, “people who had done him wrong.”

A second mass shooting erupted today in Germany. A teenage gunman armed with a pistol killed at least 15 people, then turned the gun on himself. We have a report from Robert Moore of Independent Television News.

ROBERT MOORE: The school day here had just begun, and then events unfolded that would change this quiet town forever. These are pictures of the teenage students in the aftermath of the attack, ordered by police to stay inside their classrooms as the hunt for the killer spread across the town.

A former student, Tim Kretschmer, had walked in and opened fire. The shootings had started at the Albertville secondary school in Vinnenden, near Stuttgart. The gunman entered the school at 9:30 in the morning. Once inside, he opened fire indiscriminately in corridors and classrooms.

In the chaos, he fled the scene and hijacked a car to the town of Wendlinger. There, he was cornered by police in the parking lot of a shopping center.

Back at the school, eyewitnesses were struggling to comprehend the enormity of the crime.

“In the beginning,” said this student, “I didn’t realize what was happening. I thought it was something that had gone wrong in the chemistry class.”

It is believed that Kretschmer had used a weapon seized from his father’s arsenal of legally owned hunting guns. When police searched this property, one gun was missing.

Tonight, the investigation is just beginning. The facts of what happened here we now know; the motive remains a terrible mystery.

GWEN IFILL: Today’s attack was Germany’s deadliest school shooting since 2002, when another teenager killed 16 people.

An East African terror group is recruiting young Somali-Americans; U.S. counterterror officials made the disclosure at a Senate hearing today. They said teenagers now living in the Minneapolis area have been lured back to Somalia to fight. The officials said al-Quaida could influence the men to try attacks inside the U.S.

President Obama today urged U.S. allies to act more aggressively to jump-start the global economy. Looking ahead to next month’s summit of the Group of 20 advanced and developing nations, the president called for “concerted action” around the world.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We can do a really good job here at home with a whole host of policies, but if you continue to see deterioration in the world economy, that’s going to set us back. And I think it’s very important for the American people to understand that, as aggressive as the actions we are taking have been so far, it’s very important to make sure that other countries are moving in the same direction.

GWEN IFILL: So far, European nations have resisted pressure for larger stimulus plans. They’ve said they do not want to pile up more debt.

The cost of the recession continues to grow. The Treasury reported today the deficit reached $765 billion in the first five months of the budget year. That’s already well over last year’s record. The red ink stems from slumping tax revenues and government spending to boost the economy.

Wall Street eked out more gains today. The Dow Jones industrial arose about 4 points to close at 6,930. The Nasdaq was up 13 points to close at 1,371.

Oil prices moved sharply the other way, down more than 7 percent, to finish near $42 a barrel. OPEC oil ministers meet on Sunday to consider further cuts in production in a bid to force prices up. But U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu warned today any such move would damage economic recovery efforts.

The man running the financial rescue program warned Congress today not to force banks to lend more money. Neel Kashkari oversees the Treasury Department’s $700 billion effort. He faced a litany of complaints at a House hearing that the program is not producing results. He cautioned lawmakers against micromanaging.

NEEL KASHKARI, assistant secretary of the Treasury: However well intended, government officials are not positioned to make better commercial decisions than lenders in our communities. The government must not attempt to force banks to make loans they are not comfortable with, nor should we try to direct the lending from Washington. Bad lending practices were at the root cause of this crisis, and returning to those practices will not help end the turmoil.

GWEN IFILL: So far, the rescue effort has funneled more than $300 billion into various financial institutions.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon labeled the U.S. a deadbeat donor today. Washington is the largest single backer of the U.N., but Ban pointed out it’s currently $1 billion behind in payments. He acknowledged using the word “deadbeat” in a closed meeting with House members.

Police in Pakistan arrested hundreds of anti-government protesters today, banning protests in two regions. Officers scuffled with demonstrators in Islamabad, a day before the opposition plans a large rally outside the parliament. It was the latest sign of growing unrest that now threatens the year-old government of President Asif Ali Zardari.

The Seattle chief of police is slated to become the nation’s new drug czar. Gil Kerlikowske’s selection was announced today by Vice President Biden. The position is subject to Senate confirmation, but it will no longer have cabinet-level status.

The House today narrowly defeated an effort to set aside more than 2 million acres in nine states as wilderness. The bill fell just two votes short of getting the two-thirds majority it needed. Democratic leaders pledged to try again; Republicans argued the legislation is too expensive and would block energy production.