A man has killed a young petrol station cashier in Germany after a dispute over mask wearing, prosecutors have said.
A 49-year-old German was arrested following the fatal shooting of the clerk, who has not been named, on Saturday in the town of Idar-Oberstein, located in the west of the country.
The man, who is being held on suspicion of murder, told police he acted “out of anger” after being refused service at the petrol station when he was trying to buy beer without wearing a face covering.
After further interrogation by authorities the man revealed that he rejected the Covid measures put in place in the country to try and stem the pandemic, a Trier police department statement said.
The suspect left the gas station after the dispute, but then returned half an hour later wearing a mask and shot the 20-year-old clerk with a revolver. The suspect fled the scene but after a large-scale manhunt turned himself into police on Sunday morning.
Face masks are currently a mandatory requirement for Germans when they go into a shop. A Twitter account linked to the suspect followed several prominent German far-right politicians and publicists, and also reflected a dislike for immigrants, environmental activists and the government.
Prosecutors told Germany’s dpa news agency that the suspect wasn’t previously known to police and that he wasn’t legally entitled to possess the firearm found at his house.
Malu Dreyer, the governor of Rhineland-Palatinate state, said she was “deeply shocked” and called for the incident to be thoroughly investigated and the perpetrator punished.
She said: “My thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim.”
The main contenders to succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor in next Sunday’s German election also voiced dismay at the killing.
“I’m shaken by this terrible murder of a young man who merely asked that existing rules be followed,” Annalena Baerbock of the center-left Green party said in a tweet.
She warned of the growing radicalization of Germany’s Querdenken movement, which includes people who oppose masks and vaccines, conspiracy theorists and some far-right extremists.
Armin Laschet, from Mrs Merkel’s conservative CDU party, said it was a “horrible” crime and centre-left Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that society must “resolutely stand up to hatred”.
Additional reporting by agencies
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