German media rallies to cover shootings

Programming shuffled after teen kills 12, himself

BERLIN -- German distributor Constantin Film has canceled a planned marathon tour to promote its new comedy "Mannersache" following a school shooting that left 16 dead including the 17-year-old gunman.

The film's stars -- comedians Mario Barth and Dieter Tappert -- had planned to hit six premieres in six German cities in one day. But Constantin cancelled the tour after Wednesday's massacre, which has shocked and horrified Germans and raised questions about safety at the country's schools.

There have been several public displays to honor the victims in the small Black Forest town of Winnenden. Flags are being flown at half mast across the country, and people have gathered in silent vigils. This weekend, Germany's professional soccer players will don black armbands for their games.

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday called it a day of mourning for what she called "an appalling, unimaginable crime."

The tragedy and its aftermath continue to headline newscasts across the dial.

German channels quickly shuffled their schedules as news of the shooting broke, dropping light entertainment for news updates and commentary programs. Public broadcaster ZDF scrapped the launch of its new live show "How Clever Is Germany?" and added magazine programs focusing on the massacre.

Youth-oriented channels VIVA and MTV cut their regular diet of daily soaps and series in favor of "appropriate" music videos and ran a live ticket updating viewers on the latest developments. They also switched their Web sites to black as a sign of respect for the victims.

Tim Kretschmer walked into Albertville secondary school Wednesday and began firing randomly, killing eight students and three teachers as well as a passer-by before fleeing. Later, he shot and killed two more people and exchanged fire with police. He died in the shootout. Police believe he shot himself.

School shootings are rare in Germany, which has strict gun control laws. But there was a similar attack in 2002, when a former student killed 17 people, including himself, in a school in the eastern town of Erfurt.