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Crime : Fatal shooting after dispute over mask requirement

Crime : Fatal shooting after dispute over mask requirement

The suspected murderer of a gas station employee in Rhineland-Palatinate has justified the fatal shooting with his rejection of the Corona rules. Horror and sympathy are great nationwide.

After the fatal shooting of a gas station employee in a dispute over the mask requirement, investigators expect a lengthy investigation into the background.

"We must now first make ourselves a clear picture," said senior prosecutor Kai Fuhrmann on Tuesday in Mainz to the German Press Agency. This will take several more weeks, he added. During this time, he said, the authority does not want to give any further information on the crime in Idar-Oberstein (Rhineland-Palatinate). Fuhrmann said, "The fine-tuning of the investigation is just beginning.“ 

A 49-year-old man who wanted to buy beer at the gas station allegedly shot the 20-year-old salesman in the head on Saturday evening - after the young man had twice pointed out to him that he was required to wear a corona mask. The suspected shooter has confessed to the crime, and the German national is in custody on suspicion of murder. According to investigators, there is no evidence that the perpetrator and the victim had known each other.

The crime caused great horror and sympathy throughout Germany. Chancellor candidates Annalena Baerbock (Greens) and Olaf Scholz (SPD) also expressed shock.

 "The radicalisation of the lateral thinking milieu causes me great concern," Baerbock wrote on the short message service Twitter. "We are all challenged to stand up against the increasing hatred."

 SPD chancellor candidate Scholz wrote on Twitter that his thoughts were with the relatives of the murder victim. "It shakes me very much that someone is killed because he wanted to protect himself and others," Scholz stressed. "We as a society must resolutely oppose hatred." The perpetrator must be severely punished, he added.

 CDU Secretary General Paul Ziemiak reacted similarly. "A young person is almost executed for pointing out the obligation to wear a mask," he wrote on Twitter, speaking of an "inconceivable level of radicalisation." Volker Wissing, head of the Rhineland-Palatinate FDP and federal secretary-general of the Liberals, said his party's "thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim" and that the crime was "unbearable."

Federal Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) said she was appalled by approving reactions after the bloody deed. "It is outrageous and disgusting when the terrible act of blood in Idar-Oberstein is now misused on the net for even more hatred and even more contempt for humanity. The radicalisation of violent Corona deniers must be opposed by our constitutional state with all means.“

Investigators hope to gain more clarity about the background to the crime above all from the evaluation of the electronic devices seized from the 49-year-old man. He last lived in Idar-Oberstein and was self-employed in the IT industry. The man was "versed" in the theories of the Corona deniers, it was said from investigator circles.

The man from Idar-Oberstein, who had not previously come to the attention of the police, had told investigators that he rejected the Corona measures. To the motive he had indicated that the situation of the Corona pandemic stressed him strongly and he had seen no other way out, than to set a sign.

Investigations underway

Chief Public Prosecutor Fuhrmann did not want to give any detailed information about the suspect's living situation during the ongoing investigation. He said the man had never come to the attention of the police anywhere, not even as a participant in a demonstration. "He did not legally possess the weapons." Where they came from is still completely unclear, he said.

According to criminal psychologist Lydia Benecke, the psychological background will be clarified during a forensic evaluation of the alleged perpetrator. "Even if many people now want a quick answer to the question of why such a crime was committed: This is not possible at the present time," Benecke told Deutsche Presse-Agentur. "There can be very different backgrounds for such an act." For example, he said, it would have to be investigated whether a mental disorder or the effects of alcohol or drugs played a role.

The city of Idar-Oberstein in the Birkenfeld district wants to respond to the act in an appropriate way, and a public memorial service is under discussion. Mourning flags had already been ordered for the city's town hall the day before, a city spokesman said.

(Original text: dpa; Translation: Mareike Graepel)