Killer turns gun on himself after murdering four in eviction siege
A man whose girlfriend was being evicted from her apartment has shot dead four people, including the new tenant, before killing himself.
The gunman had been due to be removed from the apartment in the south-western German city of Karlsruhe for not paying the rent.
He shot dead a court bailiff, a locksmith, and the man who was due to move in.
The fourth victim was believed to be the girlfriend of the 53-year-old gunman, who has not been named.
Two of the victims were found on a sofa with their hands tied behind their backs. Both had died from a single shot to the head. The locksmith was found dead on the floor.
The woman, believed to be the man's girlfriend, was found dead in the bedroom with a gunshot wound to her chest.
Police found a shotgun, a rifle, two pistols and a dummy hand grenade at the scene.
A social worker who had gone to the flat with the victims managed to escape and alert police after the man had opened fire. She said the gunman had first shot the bailiff in the leg and then wounded the locksmith who had tried to disarm him.
Police came under fire from the barricaded flat. Negotiators tried to establish contact with the gunman, but it remains unclear what, if any, were his demands.
It also remains to be established the reasons behind what appeared to be a planned attack, although authorities said that the girlfriend was behind on her rent and was due be evicted that day.
"It was a terrible crime," said Hildegard Gerecke, the Karlsruhe police chief.
"Nothing could be done to stop it and nothing could be done to save them."
She said the suspect, whose name was not 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 woman had fallen behind on rent and the apartment was sold at foreclosure auction. At about 8am local time 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, Mr 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 mobile phones of his captives and the apartment's phone, but nobody answered.
About 10 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 bodies. (© Daily Telegraph, London)