Movie theater gunman in Germany killed by police; unclear if gun was real

FRANKFURT, Germany, June 23 (UPI) — A gunman was killed on Thursday after launching an attack at a movie theater in the western Germany town of Viernheim.

German Interior Minister Peter Beuth said police shot the gunman dead at the Kinopolis movie because authorities believed he was holding hostages.

Investigators are attempting to determine the gunman’s motives.

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“The police had an emergency call at 2:45 p.m. The caller said there was a masked man … armed with a long gun. It is unclear whether it was a real gun,” Beuth said Thursday. “The caller heard four shots and said that the masked man appeared a little mentally unstable. Police special forces were called.”

The Ministry of Interior confirmed the gunman is dead, the Hessischer Rundfunk public broadcaster reports. The suspect was killed by police gunfire, officials said.

Authorities are determining the types of weapon the gunman may have carried. An initial investigation by police determined the gunman likely has no background connected to terrorism. Initial reports of 25 victims injured were later dismissed by police.

Mass shootings are rare in Germany. In 2002, a gunman killed 16 when he opened fire at a high school in Erfurt. In 2009, a gunman killed 15 people in a shooting spree that began and a school and moved to two small towns near Stuttgart.

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