The shooting at a Beersheva bank Monday in which four people were killed was committed by a 40-year-old former IDF officer who owed the bank tens of thousands of shekels. Police said that the shooter, Itamar Alon, whose name was released Monday night, had attempted to get the debt quashed, but failed. The bank had agreed to small monthly payments over a long period, but this did not work out.
The bank had closed his line of credit and blocked usage of his credit card, police said. The former officer had attempted to appeal to bank officials to allow him to use the card, but to no avail. At that point, police said, the man left the bank and apparently went home, returning with a weapon, and opening fire in all directions.
After the shootings, the man took a female customer of the bank hostage, but released her. At that point, police said, he killed himself.
Two other people were seriously wounded in the shootings. They are being treated at a local hospital. Police said that it was possible that the officer shot at the victims multiple times to make sure they were killed. The names of three of the four victims were released: Two, Avner Cohen and Meir Zeitoun, were respectively manager and deputy manager of the bank, and one, 34 year old Anat Ben-Haim, was a customer. Police have imposed a blackout on detailed information regarding the perpetrator.
Police said that the man was Jewish and a resident of the neighborhood where the bank was located. Rumors had been rife that the shooting was undertaken by Arab terrorists. Police said they had positively identified the perpetrator.
Although police said initially that the incident was a bank robbery, sources in the police department said that the nature of the incident was still an open question. Sources quoted on Israel Radio said that the bank branch was a small one, and did not have a large amount of cash, making it a poor target for a robbery. Witnesses said that the shooter did not demand money.