BERLIN (Reuters) - A 53-year-old German gunman facing eviction shot dead four people before committing suicide in an apartment in the southern city of Karlsruhe on Wednesday, police said.
The unemployed man killed a bailiff and locksmith who tried to evict him from his flat, as well as the new owner. Police found the man's 55-year-old partner dead in bed and said he had shot her as well.
"Special forces broke into the apartment at 11.48 after smelling something burning and found four dead bodies. One of them was the gunman," said Karlsruhe police chief Roland Lay.
Investigators described an "execution-like" scene in the three-roomed flat, which had been put up for compulsory sale in April due to payment arrears, suggesting he had planned the killings. He set fire to the carpet before shooting himself.
"There was nothing the police could have done to avoid this tragic and terrible situation," Gunter Spitz of the local public prosecutors' office told a news conference.
Police found a shotgun, rifle, two pistols, ammunition and a dummy grenade in the apartment, all of it illegally purchased, said Spitz.
The gunman, who was not named, invited the eviction team into the flat then pulled a gun on them, shooting the bailiff in the leg when he did not obey. The locksmith was shot in the head and chest after trying to disarm the gunman, police said.
Drinking beer and smoking throughout the ordeal, the gunman eventually freed the social worker, who heard five shots after he left the apartment.
Karlsruhe, with nearly 300,000 inhabitants, is located near the French border and is home to Germany's Constitutional Court.
Reporting by Elisa Oddone and Reuters TV; Writing by Elisa Oddone; Editing by Louise Ireland