Petrol station worker killed in Germany after face mask row

·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Jean-Christophe Verhaegen/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Jean-Christophe Verhaegen/AFP/Getty Images

Politicians in Germany have expressed concern over the radicalisation of those who disagree with Covid restrictions, after a 49-year-old German citizen was arrested on suspicion of shooting dead a petrol station worker who refused to serve him while he was not wearing a mask.

Authorities in the western town of Trier said the suspect told officers he acted “out of anger” after the 20-year-old cashier at a petrol station the town of Idar-Oberstein, in Rhineland-Palatinate, asked him to put on a mask.

“He further stated during interrogation that he rejected the measures against coronavirus,” police said.

According to the state prosecutor, the man said he had felt “pushed into a corner” and had held the victim “responsible for the situation as a whole because he had enforced the rules”.

The suspect had entered the Aral petrol station at around 745pm on Saturday and picked up a six-pack of beer. CCTV footage shows a mask tucked into the back of the man’s trousers.

After the cashier had twice alerted him that it was mandatory to wear a mask inside the petrol station, the man had put down the beers after a brief exchange of words and left.

He returned two hours later, this time wearing a mask that he pulled under his chin as he stood at the counter. “Eventually he pulled a revolver from his pocket and fired a fatal shot at the 20-year-old student from Idar-Oberstein,” police said.

The suspect fled on foot but turned himself at a police station in town the following morning.

“I am shocked by the terrible murder of a young man, who had only asked others to follow the prevalent rules, to be considerate and show solidarity,” Annalena Baerbock, the Green candidate for chancellor, tweeted.

“I am greatly concerned about the radicalisation of the Querdenker [Germany’s movement of pandemic sceptics]”, she added. “We all need to stand up to growing hatred.”

Police said the suspect had not been in legal possession of the weapon used in the attack, and he had not previously been on the authorities’ radar. There was no suggestion that the victim and the gunman had known each other before the incident.

The mayor of Idar-Oberstein, Frank Frühauf, expressed his shock and dismay over the crime. “This is a quite inconceivable, terrible act that has happened here in Idar-Oberstein,” he said. “Such a crime is unprecedented. It will take time to come to terms with it.”

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