A teenager with a pistol who seized four youngsters at a school in south west Germany and demanded a one million euro ransom surrendered after freeing the hostages unharmed, police said.
After the stand-off at the school in Waiblingen, near Stuttgart, ended at about 9.20pm local time last night, police said that the weapon turned out to be an air pistol, which fires pellets that can cause serious injury or possibly kill at close range.
The hostage-taker had told police by mobile phone that he wanted a million euros and a getaway car, police said.
After around five hours, the teenager released one hostage in return for a pizza and then another in return for a mobile phone and a chance to call someone. He let the two others go a little more than an hour later.
Around 100 students were in the Friedensschule, or Peace School, when the 16-year-old former student walked in and sat down in a second-floor computer room at around 2.30pm local time, witnesses and police said. Minutes later, he stood up and pulled out a handgun, they said.
Students said he warned them to remain calm and then gave a mobile phone number to a teacher. He sent her and all but four students out of the room and made them close the curtains before calling police.
“He said, ‘If you don’t keep quiet something will happen’,” said Marc, an 11-year-old student.
Police spokesman Thomas Keller described the hostage-taker as making “a calm impression” while negotiating with authorities.
Police said he had planned the attack well in advance and had read a book on hostage taking.
The only motive the teenager mentioned was “debts” that he had, police said.
They also said the teenager had outfitted himself with a bullet-proof vest.
The hostages were around 12 years old, he said.
In April, a 19-year-old former student killed himself and 16 other people in an attack inside a school in Erfurt, in eastern Germany. Thirteen of the dead were teachers. In the outrage that followed, parliament passed a bill in June to tighten German gun laws.