Germany: Suspects in police shooting had been poaching

Jan 31, 2022, 4:30 PM | Updated: Feb 1, 2022, 9:04 am
Markings were applied on the edge of county road 22 between the towns of Mayweilerhof and Ulmet in ...

Markings were applied on the edge of county road 22 between the towns of Mayweilerhof and Ulmet in Germany, Tuesday, Feb.1, 2022. The day before, a policewoman and a policeman were shot there during a traffic control. (Harald Tittel/dpa via AP)

(Harald Tittel/dpa via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — Two men arrested over the nighttime killing of two police officers on a rural road in Germany apparently opened fire with hunting weapons after being caught with poached wild animals in their van, investigators said Tuesday.

Fatal attacks on police are rare in Germany and Monday’s shooting near Kusel in the west of the country shocked officials from Chancellor Olaf Scholz down.

A 29-year-old male officer and a 24-year-old female colleague who had nearly completed her training were killed. Both were shot in the head. Investigators said the elder officer fired 14 shots, but apparently neither of the suspects was hit.

Two men were arrested on Monday afternoon in Sulzbach, about 37 kilometers (over 20 miles) from the scene of the shooting. A judge on Tuesday ordered them to be kept in custody on suspicion of murder pending a possible indictment, prosecutor Stefan Orthen said at a news conference in Kaiserslautern.

At around 4:20 a.m. Monday, the two officers radioed that they had found “dubious people” on their patrol and “the whole trunk was full of wild animals,” police official Heiner Schmolzi said. They asked for reinforcements, then shortly afterward radioed: “Come quickly, they’re shooting.” A shot was heard.

Reinforcements who arrived about 10 minutes later found one officer dead and the other seriously injured. They found the main suspect’s driving license and a national ID card. The 38-year-old was tracked down and arrested hours later. Authorities also found the other suspect, age 32, and the van with a loading area full of dead animals.

Investigators believe that the suspects used at least two weapons, a shotgun and a hunting rifle, and that both shot at the police officers, Orthen said. He said they believe that “this killing of the two police officers served to cover up the poaching that preceded it.”

The suspects’ finances apparently were “anything but orderly” and their social position “rather fragile,” Orthen said. Investigators acknowledged that they will need to explore the motive further, but said they had no indication of any political motivation. They were still looking into whether the suspects had firearms licenses.

Neither suspect has a previous conviction, officials said. However, one was known to authorities for suspected poaching and fleeing the scene of an accident; and the other for suspected fraud.

The 38-year-old suspect hasn’t given any information, Orthen said. The 32-year-old one has told investigators that the pair were poaching and gave an account of the traffic stop and the shooting, but has denied firing any shots himself, he added.

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Germany: Suspects in police shooting had been poaching