German police believe family drama behind fatal shootings
German police suspected a family drama Monday after a gun-wielding woman killed a small boy and two other people and blew up her flat before being shot dead by commandos.
Authorities in the southwestern town of Loerrach said they believed the armed woman may have killed her ex-partner and their five-year-old son late Sunday before firebombing their home.
The 41-year-old lawyer, who has not been named, shot two bystanders -- who were left seriously injured -- with a handgun as she ran from the blazing apartment block into the hospital over the road.
"Inside the hospital, the woman killed a staff member and then opened fire at police as they arrived. In the subsequent exchange of fire, a police officer was seriously injured and the woman was killed," a police statement said.
Media reports said that the woman stabbed the hospital employee to death with a knife. Panic broke out, with patients screaming for help and seeking refuge in rooms, the cellar and even the roof, the Bild daily said.
"After the fire brigade had put out the fire ... they found in the totally burned out flat two dead bodies, a man and a five-year-old child," police said.
"There is reason to believe that the corpses are of the woman's former partner and their child."
A spokesman told AFP said that police were working on the hypothesis that the woman shot the man and the boy before blowing up the apartment, but that an autopsy would determine the cause of death.
"We are putting all our resources into the investigation," police said. They put in a place a special hotline for members of the public with relevant information.
Bild said on its website that the couple had split up eight weeks earlier.
Police in the 48,000-strong town near the French and Swiss borders were due to hold a news conference at 11:30 am (0930 GMT).
The incident came only days after the manslaughter trial opened in nearby Stuttgart last week of the father of Tim Kretschmer, the teenager who in March 2009 shot dead 15 people before killing himself at his old school and nearby.
Joerg Kretschmer, a 51-year-old businessman, is also accused of having violated gun laws because his 17-year-old son was able to take his 9mm Beretta pistol from his bedside for his killing spree in the town of Winnenden.
Emergency services in Baden-Wuerttemberg state were well prepared thanks to events in Winnenden, and almost 400 members of the emergency services were in action on Sunday night, including 150 police and 120 from the fire brigade.
Many of those involved were being treated for stress on Monday.
The fire brigade evacuated seven people from the blazing apartment block and a further 12 from an adjacent building. In total, 17 people were left with light injuries.
© 2010 AFP