A shooting Wednesday that killed two people outside a German synagogue during one of the most important Jewish holidays was livestreamed for 35 minutes on Twitch. The video has since been removed from the streaming platform, but it was uploaded to other video sites.
The shooter failed to enter the synagogue in Halle, Germany, but wreaked havoc before driving away, including killing the two individuals. The man used a smartphone on a helmet to record his crime, while wearing a kevlar vest. Wednesday is Yom Kippur, the holiest day for Judaism. Inside the synagogue were 70 to 80 worshipers, according to a local Jewish leader. All were safe and unharmed.
"Hi, my name is Anon," the shooter said in English at the start of the video while in his car. "Anon" is a shortened version of "anonymous," used commonly on sites like 4chan and 8chan, the latter was taken offline but was rebranded recently s 8kun. "I think the Holocaust never happened. Feminism is the cause of the decline of the West which acts as a scapegoat for mass immigration. And the root of all these problems is the Jew. Would you like to be friends?"
Prosecutors identified the man in the video as Stephen B., according to CBS News. Local news sources reported his full name as Stephan Balliet, a 27-year-old German citizen.
"What we experienced yesterday was terror," said Peter Frank, the chief federal prosecutor, on Thursday. "The suspect, Stephan B., aimed to carry out a massacre in the synagogue in Halle."
The video showed the shooter's two victims: a woman near the synagogue and a man in a nearby kebab eatery. The shooter also threw what looked like a grenade.
Documents that appear to be from the shooter were posted to a message board Wednesday. One contained a link to the livestream, as well as a callout to an 8chan user. Another included several images of guns and magazines, some of which appear to have been manufactured with a 3D printer. The document included plans for the attack, and "achievements" similar to those found in video games.
The attack marks the latest incident in which a violent act has been livestreamed for the public, raising questions about the responsibility of platforms like Twitch, which is owned by Amazon. It echoes the Christchurch shooting in New Zealand in March, when a shooter killed 50 Muslim worshipers at two mosques. The man streamed his actions on Facebook.
Halle police said they have a person in custody but have yet to identify the suspect.
Twitch removed the video of the shooting, but it was livestreamed for 35 minutes to five viewers, the company tweeted Wednesday. A recording of the video generated automatically after the stream ended was viewed by 2,200 people in the 30 minutes it was available before it was flagged and then removed. The company said the recording wasn't recommended to Twitch users, meaning viewers were sharing the link to the video among themselves. Twitch is working to stop the proliferation of the video.
"We are shocked and saddened by the tragedy that took place in Germany today, and our deepest condolences go out to all those affected," said Brielle Villablanca, director of corporate communications at Twitch. "Twitch has a zero-tolerance policy against hateful conduct, and any act of violence is taken extremely seriously. We worked with urgency to remove this content and will permanently suspend any accounts found to be posting or reposting content of this abhorrent act."
Originally published Oct. 9, 12:43 p.m. PT.
Update, 1:45 p.m.: Includes additional details; 2:18 p.m.: Adds more details from Twitch. Oct. 11: Adds info about shooter.