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June 4, 2020 10:52 am

Shock in Germany After Neo-Nazi Gunman Who Attacked Synagogue on Yom Kippur Attempts Prison Escape

avatar by Ben Cohen

Flowers and candles are seen outside a synagogue in Halle, Germany, Oct. 10, 2019, after two people were killed in a shooting nearby. Photo: Reuters / Fabrizio Bensch.

Jewish community leaders in the eastern German city of Halle expressed shock on Thursday after learning that the neo-Nazi gunman who attacked a local synagogue on Yom Kippur last year had attempted to escape from prison last weekend.

“It is incredible that he almost made it. I have no words,” Max Privorozki — chairman of the Halle Jewish community — told the dpa news agency.

The incident involving the gunman, 27-year-old Stephan Balliet, occurred last Saturday, when he briefly managed to dodge the gaze of prison guards during a recreation period in the courtyard of the Halle correctional facility.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Justice in the State of Saxony-Anhalt, Balliet then jumped over an 11-foot-tall fence before being captured by guards about five minutes later.

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A spokesman for the ministry said that Balliet’s intention to escape had been “evident.” He has since been transferred to a high-security facility in the town of Burg, in western Germany.

More than 50 worshipers were attending services for Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest day, at the Halle synagogue on Oct. 31 last year when Balliet’s attempted gun massacre was foiled by the synagogue’s security doors.

He subsequently shot dead a woman who was passing by the synagogue, before driving to a nearby Turkish restaurant, where he murdered a male customer.  He was apprehended later the same day by police in Zeitz, about 50 miles from Halle.

Balliet’s trial is expected to begin later this year.

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