A scene in Viernheim, Germany (near Frankfurt) has become the subject of multiple (and conflicting) reports about a threat situation after a gunman reportedly opened fire inside a multiplex theater. What we do know for sure is that police stormed the complex and shot the unidentified man dead. From there, the puzzle hasn’t neared completion.
Just to give an idea how much these media accounts vary, an early New York Post report indicated that 25 people may have been shot by the assailant. CNN is still running a similar headline and hasn’t clarified whether anyone besides the shooter was killed or injured by gunfire. However, Fox News passes on an Associated Press report that reveals no gunshot injuries to theater patrons, who are simply being treated for tear gas exposure.
Hessen State Interior Minister Peter Beuth addressed the media on authorities’ actions: “The police thought that the gunman was holding hostages and because of that he was shot dead.” However, Fox News points out that Beuth doesn’t know “whether the weapon was real.”
The IB Times fills in some blanks with indications that the masked man wasn’t a terrorist but a “confused man” (according to state security services) who entered the multiplex and began firing shots into the air. He then barricaded himself in the theater and may have taken hostages. The New York Daily News reports that this theater serves “more than 20,000 people” on a daily basis.
The New York Times also notes the disorganized media coverage of this incident while acknowledging German authorities’ dread over the spread of terrorist plots. On this side of the pond, J. Peter Donald, Director of NYPD Communications, reveals that police will monitor NYC theaters until more is known about what took place in Viernheim.