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Man kills himself, 4 hostages in Germany

Published July 4, 2012 11:12 am

Standoff • Gunman and the victims were dead by the time commandos stormed the place.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Berlin • A heavily armed man whose girlfriend was being evicted from her apartment Wednesday killed four people, including the new owner and a court bailiff who were shot execution style, before turning a shotgun on himself, German authorities said.

A commando team stormed the apartment in the southern German city of Karlsruhe, but the 53-year-old gunman and the victims were already dead.

Also killed were the girlfriend, a 55-year-old woman who was found on her bed with a gunshot wound to her chest, near the gunman's body.

The bailiff and new owner were found with their hands bound on a couch, dead from gunshot wounds to the head. A locksmith was found dead on the floor.

"It was a terrible crime," said Hildegard Gerecke, the Karlsruhe police chief.

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"Nothing could be done to stop it and nothing could be done to save them."

She said the suspect, whose name wasn't released in accordance with German privacy laws, had no history of violence that would have made the bailiff and the others expect any danger.

The apartment is in a building that was once part of the U.S. Army's Paul Revere Village and used to house troops.

The woman had fallen behind on payments and the apartment was sold at foreclosure auction. At about 8 a.m. the bailiff, a locksmith, and a social worker showed up to evict her.

When nobody opened the door they began trying to force the lock, then the suspect opened the door and ushered them in, said deputy police chief Roland Lay, who ran the operation.

The new owner of the apartment, a 49-year-old man, showed up minutes later.

Once all were inside the suspect told them to sit but when the bailiff refused, the suspect went into another room, grabbed a pistol, and shot him twice in the thigh, Lay said.

A struggle for the pistol ensued with the 33-year-old locksmith, and the suspect shot him four or five times, including in the head.

About 45 minutes later, after binding the hands of the others and putting them on the couch, the suspect let the social worker go and he informed police of the shootings.

Police tried to make contact with the suspect on the cell phones of his captives and the apartment's phone, but nobody answered, Lay said.

About ten minutes before noon, when they smelled smoke from the apartment, they used explosives to blow through the door and stormed in, finding the carpet on fire and the grisly scene, he said.

In addition to the shotgun, police found a rifle with a long magazine, two pistols, a dummy hand grenade and a lot of ammunition, Lay said.

Authorities said the suspect shared his time between Karlsruhe and the nearby Alsace region of neighboring France. It was not yet clear where the man got the weapons, which were not registered.