A lone gunman was shot dead by German special police forces yesterday after he opened fire in a cinema complex and barricaded himself in the building with several hostages.
No one was hurt by the gunman, but about two dozen filmgoers were understood to have been injured by police tear gas as they stormed the cinema in the town of Viernheim 43 miles south of Frankfurt.
Investigators ruled out Islamist terror last night but were unable to explain more about the motives of the masked man who stormed into the Kinopolis building just as matinee screenings were about to start. Witnesses said that the man was brandishing a long-barrelled weapon that could have been a rifle and wearing an ammunition belt over his shoulder.
They said that he fired in the air four times. There was no confirmation whether the rounds were live or blanks.
“The gunman surprised us while we were in the toilet,” one of the hostages, Almir H, 16, told Bild newspaper. “He told us ‘Get down on the floor if you value your lives’. There were about 17 of us taken hostage.”
Bild reported that a hand grenade and possible explosive belt were found next to the gunman’s body.