JERUSALEM — A gunman stormed into a bank in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba Monday, killing four people in a gunfight and taking a hostage before killing himself, police said.
Police initially suspected a bungled bank robbery but later changed their assessment.
They identified the gunman as a former military officer who fell on hard times financially. The 40-year-old man arrived at the bank to withdraw money and settle a debt, police said. He reportedly got into an argument with the bank manager and came back an hour later with a handgun that was licensed to him and opened fire.
The dead included the bank manager, his deputy and two clients. Four other people were wounded, one seriously.
After the shooting rampage, the man then took a woman hostage and held her for an hour in the bathroom before turning the gun on himself.
"He kept one hand on my mouth and said `shut up or I'll kill you,' and the other hand held the gun in front of me," recounted the hostage, Miriam Cohen, in an interview with Israel's Channel 10 TV. "Then he put the gun in his mouth ... and I heard a gunshot."
"The murderer came in with an intention to shoot," national police chief Yohanan Danino told reporters.