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CRIME

Gunman who killed four was French national

The gunman who shot dead four hostages during a flat eviction and then killed himself in western Germany was French, it emerged on Thursday. Police say he had been planning the bloodbath for some time.

Gunman who killed four was French national
Photo: DPA

The 55 year-old man, who has not been named, died along with his four victims in Karlsruhe on Wednesday. He was originally from the Alsace region, a police spokesman said on Thursday. The spokesman could not confirm whether the man also had German nationality.

He had been living with his 55-year-old partner in her Karlsruhe flat just 70 kilometres from the French border. But she had fallen behind with maintenance payments and the property was sold off in April, the Tagesspiegel newspaper wrote late on Wednesday evening.

The new owner wanted to live there himself – and told the couple they would have to move out. The imminent eviction had “shaken his personal existence” to the core, one investigator told the paper.

The presence of a small arsenal of weapons and materials to restrain his captives suggests the “execution”-style murders were premeditated, police added. They found two pistols, a shotgun, a “gun with a long magazine,” a large amount of ammunition and a disabled hand grenade in his flat. The collection could have sustained a long shoot-out with officers.

Investigations are being carried out into how he got the weapons – where he got them, and whether they were legal.

Post-mortem examinations of the victims and the gunman are due to take place in Heidelberg on Friday, from which police are hoping to be able to gain a clearer picture of Wednesday’s dramatic events.

The Tagesspiegel said the bailiff, locksmith and social worker arrived at the flat at 8am to evict the couple – the furniture removal van was waiting outside. The gunman let them in, but then took them hostage, forcing the locksmith to tie the others up, wrote the paper. Later the new owner arrived and was also tied up with the others.

The locksmith made a grab for the gunman’s weapon but failed to disarm him and was fatally shot. The gunman then spent an hour drinking beer and watching the other hostages, before he freed the social worker who immediately called police.

The social worker said he heard further shots as he ran down the stairs, wrote the Tagesspiegel. Police spent three hours outside the flat as negotiators tried and failed to contact him. A smell of burning prompted them to storm the property – the gunman had set the carpet on fire after killing the remaining hostages. By the time police got inside he had also shot himself dead.

They also discovered the body of the gunman’s girlfriend on the bed, killed by a shot to the chest. It’s unclear whether she was already dead when the hostages were taken captive.

The locksmith, 33, who leaves behind two children and a heavily pregnant widow, had only stepped in at the last minute to lend a hand, a friend of his told the Bild newspaper on Thursday. The bailiff, 47, also leaves behind a family.

The French gunman had robbed a shop armed with a knife in 2003, but had not been considered violent or dangerous by authorities.

The Local/AFP/DAPD/jlb

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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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