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CRIME

Gunman kills Hamelin politician then himself

A 74-year-old gunman killed a top official in the northern German town of Hamelin on Friday before shooting himself dead, police said.

Gunman kills Hamelin politician then himself
Gunman's victim Rüdiger Butte. Photo: DPA

“The perpetrator killed district administrator Rüdiger Butte and then killed himself,” a police spokesman said. Officers were still at the scene on Friday afternoon, collecting evidence to support an investigation.

Shots were heard shortly after 10am in the city’s main administrative building, where 63-year-old Butte was later found dead along with the body of his assailant.

The police chief of neighbouring Göttingen, Robert Kruse, later told a news conference that a dispute between the elderly assailant and local authorities over a gun licence had preceded Friday’s shooting.

The local man, whom Kruse described as a “gun fanatic”, had been stripped of his permit in 1988 and in 2009 was charged with illegal possession of a firearm.

He was also known to police for other crimes including grievous bodily harm.

Investigators believe the gunman, who was not identified, tried to reach Butte repeatedly on the telephone before the shooting. It was not immediately clear whether the two knew each other personally.

Butte was married with two adult children and five grandchildren, according to his profile on the district website. By Friday afternoon, his personal website had been taken off line.

Lower Saxony’s Interior Minister Boris Pistorius said in a statement that Butte’s murder had left him stunned. “He will be missed by everyone. My thoughts go to his wife and children.”

He served as a police officer, rising through the ranks to become the head of the State Crime Investigations Office of Lower Saxony from 2001 to 2005. He had served as district administrator of Hamelin-Pyrmont, an elected office, since 2005.

The district press officer, Sandra Lummitsch, fought back tears as she described the scene.

“I heard shots. The door opened and my colleague said ‘Something terrible has happened’,” she said.

“No one can believe that this took place here.”

She said she and her co-workers locked themselves in a room after a supervisor sent an email to all staff with a warning to stay where they were.

The town is best known for the folk tale of the Pied Piper, later popularised by the Brothers Grimm.

Gun violence is rare in Germany, although major massacres in Erfurt in 2002 and Winnenden in 2009 made headlines around the world.

Yet gun crime dropped considerably over the past decade – in 2000, police registered 19,400 crimes in which involved a firearm. By 2011, this figure stood at 11,700.

Of the 2011 statistics, 5,600 were shootings and 132 were incidents in which a gun was involved in a murder, manslaughter or assisted suicide investigation.

AFP/DPA/The Local/jcw

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CRIME

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.

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