A 47-YEAR-OLD German gunman shot and killed two people and injured another in a rampage in the southern state of Bavaria before being overpowered by two petrol station mechanics, authorities said.
Officials said the victims appeared to have been chosen randomly by the suspect, who spoke “incoherently” after his arrest yesterday.
The suspected attacker has been identified only as Bernd G.
Initial reports had said the suspect was an 18-year-old.
At present the man’s motive is unclear, and he is undergoing psychiatric assessment.
“At the moment there are no indications of any immediate relationships between the suspect and the victims,” said Bavaria’s interior minister, Joachim Herrmann, calling it an “ugly, incomprehensible crime”.
The first shooting came in the town of Tiefenthal, the second a short time after in nearby Rammersdorf, sparking a major police manhunt.
Police were alerted at 10am that a middle-aged man driving a silver Mercedes had opened fire on a woman in Tiefenthal, 31 miles west of Nuremberg. The 82-year-old woman died at the scene.
An eyewitness said the woman, who would have celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary this year, stood up from a bench and exchanged a few words with the driver.
As she turned away to sit back down, the suspect allegedly shot her in the back before speeding off, according reports in the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.
Shortly afterwards, police said the gunman fatally shot a 72-year-old man riding a bicycle in the nearby town of Rammersdorf.
A driver who was threatened by the suspect gave details of the man’s car to police.
The suspect then fired at a farmer driving a tractor, who was slightly injured by flying glass, and drove to a gas station in Bad Windsheim, 20 miles from the scene of the shootings.
He was later detained by police after being overpowered by workers at the petrol station where he is alleged to have stopped and threatened staff.
Mr Herrmann said: “Shortly before noon, police were informed that staff at an Esso gas station in Bad Windsheim had overpowered the man after he threatened them with a weapon. It’s thanks to the brave intervention of the gas station staff that the suspect was stopped.”
Prosecutors said Bernd G showed signs of psychological problems and was being assessed by a psychiatrist.
He had no previous convictions, prosecutor Gerhard Neuhof said. The suspect had permits to own two firearms but not to carry or use them, authorities said.
Siegfried Hess, the mayor of Leutershausen, which incorporates Tiefenthal, said he was “stunned” by the shootings.
He said: “In a place with 5,500 inhabitants, where we have always lived a tranquil life, you only know about these situations from the television.
“And then something like this happens on your doorstep. You’re at a loss for words.”
Mr Hess described the killings as “probably the worst crime in the history of the town”.
Mr Neuhof said the suspect displayed “psychiatric symptoms” while being transported away from the scene of the crime in a police car.
He added that the man was being evaluated to determine whether he should be held in police or medical custody.
Mr Herrmann said that it was the “courageous intervention” of the petrol station employees had prevented something even worse from happening.