German police SEK special forces shot and killed a gunman who had taken hostages in a movie-theater complex in the Hessian town of Viernheim on Thursday. None of the hostages or police officers were hurt in the rescue operation.
The unidentified masked man reportedly entered the Kinopolis multiplex Thursday afternoon carrying a number of firearms and wearing bandolier, fired shots into the air and barricaded himself in a theater with hostages.
Special police units stormed the theater complex and killed the gunman. Witnesses reported that a number of shots were fired before the assailant was killed.
Police have not yet identified the man nor the types of firearms he was carrying.
According to Hessian Interior Minister Peter Beuth, the gunman was carrying a rifle and appeared to be confused or disturbed. Spiegel Online, citing police sources, added that the assailant appeared to be a lone and disturbed individual, adding that there was no evidence of a terrorist-related attack.
Initial press reports erroneously reported a number of wounded hostages. Police have stressed that no people were injured in the rescue operation, which has resulted in high praise for the SEK special unit on social media, particularly from Twitter users.
The attack nevertheless echoed the 2012 mass shooting inside the Century 16 theater in Auroroa, Colorado, during a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.”
While mass shootings have become a regular occurrence in the U.S. — most recently at the gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, earlier this month that killed 49 people and injured 53 others — they are rare in Germany. Only about two people out of every million are killed in gun homicides in Germany. By contrast, in the U.S., 31 per million people die of gun homicides, the equivalent of about 27 people shot dead every day of the year, according to a recent article in New York Times.