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Austrian neo-Nazi massacres festival-goers

24.5.2016 22:46
In the early morning hours of 22 May 2016 in the small town of Nenzing, Austria, a 27-year-old man began randomly shooting into a crowd of people after a reportedly banal argument with his girlfriend. (PHOTO:
In the early morning hours of 22 May 2016 in the small town of Nenzing, Austria, a 27-year-old man began randomly shooting into a crowd of people after a reportedly banal argument with his girlfriend. (PHOTO:

At the beginning of the week the Czech media briefly reported on an incident in the small town of Nenzing, Austria, where on Sunday morning a 27-year-old man, after a seemingly banal argument with his girlfriend, shot randomly into a crowd of people. Two men died on the spot and more than 10 people were injured.

After firing at least 30 rounds, the shooter turned the weapon on himself. The shooting occurred during a traditional event held by a local motorcycle club, "The Lords", connected with an outdoor concert.

At around 3 AM Sunday morning there were roughly 150 people still at the event. Panic broke out at the scene after the shooting.

Austrian news server Vorarlberg Online wrote that many festival-goers fled the event and took cover in the forest, with some running as far as the nearby highway. The girlfriend of the assailant, who was not harmed, called the police and after they arrived gave extensive testimony and identified the dead perpetrator, who is the father of her young son.

Several of those injured are currently in hospital, one of whom is in critical condition. News server and other media outlets cited a Czech News Agency Report on Sunday stating that the "perpetrator's motives are not yet known and the investigation is still underway."

According to the Czech News Agency, a press conference was supposed to have been held yesterday by the Austrian Police to inform on the results of the investigation so far. Since then, no new information has appeared in the Czech media about the case. [Editor's note:  At practically the same time as we published this article at 13:09 on Tuesday, Czech Radio reported the basic information about Sunday's incident].

A recidivist who was not allowed to obtain weapons

At the press conference yesterday, representatives of the Austrian Criminal Police informed the public that perpetrator Gregor S. had long been well-known to them. According to the Austrian daily Kurier, he had been convicted a total of eight times between 2005-2010 for, among other crimes, committing bodily harm and making credible threats of violence.

On Christmas 2005, together with other neo-Nazis from the local branch of the international group Blood & Honour, Gregor S. participated in a violent attack against those attending a punk concert in Bludenz, Austria. He and the other assailants, armed with baseball bats and gas pistols, were arrested and charged with committing bodily harm.

Gregor S. has been banned by the court from owning or carrying a weapon. In 2012 he underwent a psychiatric assessment.

The longtime activist on the neo-Nazi scene had not been active in recent years, according to police. The neo-Nazi scene in Vorarlberg is considered by experts to be highly dangerous.

For example, in 2009, a mass brawl happened there during which one man died and several people were injured. In November 2015 and February of this year, members of that scene participated in demonstrations against refugees, for example, in Spielfeld near the border with Hungary, which was facing the greatest influx of refugees at the time.

Police were unprepared

After the shooting, police searched the shooter's home and found a locked tin chest containing grenades, military-grade munitions, and neo-Nazi publications. The weapon he used is a "Zastava M92", which is simply a modified Kalashnikov and is banned in Austria, as it is an assault weapon.

According to police, the weapon was imported into Austria illegally. The shooter had been a member of Blood & Honour until 2010.

Police emphasized that in recent years they had not had the slightest reason to suspect that Gregor S. was continuing a life of crime. There was absolutely no police presence at the scene of the festival because no problems had ever occurred there during previous years, although patrols did regularly drive by through the neighborhood of the festival.

Austrian and German media have been extensively reporting on the background to the shooting for two days now, unlike the Czech media. We can only guess whether the Czech media might have reported on this case more intensively if the perpetrator of the shooting had been a Muslim or a refugee instead of a white Austrian.

Blood & Honour Division

Blood & Honour, the most radical militant neo-Nazi organization, was established in the 1980s in Great Britain by Ian Stuart Donaldson, the leader of the neo-Nazi skinhead music group Skrewdriver. It was originally established as an effective, extensive distribution network for neo-Nazi and racist materials among youth (carrying on the work of the German youth organization Hitlerjugend), especially music.

In many of its materials, the group has called for violence. The name of the organization is sometimes coded as the number 28.

The group has branches in dozens of countries around the world. Experts have linked it, for example, to the murderous attacks on Romani dwellings in Hungary from 2009-2010, the series of murders by the National-Socialist Underground in Germany (2000-2008), as well as to the arson attack in Vítkov, Czech Republic in 2009.   

Markus Pape, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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