An employee at a gas station in Idar-Oberstein was shot dead on Saturday. The suspect pleaded guilty – and explained the motive.
He shot the cashier in the head after he pointed out to him that he was not wearing a mask
After a fatal attack on a gas station cashier following a dispute over the wearing of a mask, the investigation against the 49-year-old suspect continues. According to prosecutor Kai Fuhrmann, the man had no police record until now. On Saturday evening, he shot a 20-year-old salesman in Idar-Oberstein (Rhineland-Palatinate) in the head after he twice pointed out to him that it was mandatory to wear a mask when buying beer.
The German confessed to the crime. The alleged perpetrator testified that he rejects the strictures. As for motive, he said the pandemic situation was weighing heavily on him, Fuhrmann said. He felt pushed into a corner and “saw no choice” but to make an example of himself. The victim seemed to him to be “responsible for the whole situation because he was enforcing these rules,” Fuhrmann said.
The alleged murder weapon, as well as other weapons and ammunition, were found and seized by police during a search of the suspect’s home. The man does not have a gun permit – the question of the weapon’s origin has yet to be clarified. He lives in Idar-Oberstein. Fuhrmann did not want to provide more information about the man. He said the investigation is still ongoing. An arrest warrant was issued on an emergency basis on suspicion of murder. The suspect is currently in custody.
Man returned home to retrieve revolver
Investigators’ findings so far indicate that the 49-year-old walked into the gas station Saturday night without a mask and placed two six-packs of beer on the counter near the cash register. He later said he forgot his mask. The cashier pointed out to the man that masks are mandatory – after which, according to the investigation, the man left the room and threatened with a raised hand.
The 49-year-old was furious over the refusal. He then took a revolver from the house and went to the gas station again to provoke the 20-year-old salesman, Fuhrmann reports based on the suspect’s testimony.
This time, he put on a mask, grabbed another six-pack of beer and walked up to the cash register. “That’s where he took the mask off,” – Fuhrmann said. The cashier again pointed out to the man that he needed to wear the mask: At that point, the offender pulled out a gun and shot the 20-year-old, “specifically from the front in the head,” Fuhrmann said.
The suspect was arrested Sunday morning at the Idar-Oberstein police station. “We assume he wanted to turn himself in,” – Trier police chief Friedel Durben said. “In any case, this is a special case: at the police station in Trier or in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, we have never had such a crime that would suggest a connection to coronavirus strictures.”
German politicians’ horror at the crime
“This is a completely unimaginable, terrible act that happened here in Idar-Oberstein,” said Mayor Frank Frühauf (CDU). This was also evident from the great consternation of local residents. Many people laid flowers and wreaths at the gas station. “Such an act cannot be compared with anything else. It will take some time to come to terms with this.” – he said.
It was also not without consternation from politicians. Green Party MP Renate Künast wrote on Twitter on Monday evening: “I am horrified by the cruel murder in Rhineland-Palatinate. My thoughts are with the relatives. The obligation to wear masks as a motive for murder leaves me speechless.” – The politician wrote. “Online hatred is real, and words can turn into terrible actions. It is our duty to fight against it.”
The head of the federal Left Party, Susanne Hennig-Wellsow, said according to the statement: “We owe an explanation first and foremost to the victim and her family. But it is of elementary importance for all of us.” Among other things, it must be established where and why the man had the gun, whether he acted alone or “was on the Internet in some chat rooms spreading assassination fantasies.”