Hundreds Gather in Germany to Condemn Racially Motivated Shooting

German authorities have labeled the shooting of an East African man as a xenophobic attack.

An Eritrean man was shot in the stomach and severely wounded in the German town of Wächtersbach in central Germany.

The 26-year-old victim was shot at least one time, spokeman for Frankfurt prosecutors Alexander Badle told the Associated Press. The victim is currently in stable condition.

The 55-year-old German suspect was found dead in his car three hours later, after shooting himself in the head. The spokesman said he appeared to target the 26-year-old victim “completely at random and purely because of the color [of his] skin”.

Police found two semi-automatic guns in the suspected gunman’s car and three additional guns at his home. The guns were all legally owned and he had reportedly purchased a sixth gun right before the attack. Officials also found a letter at the suspect’s home but the letters contents were not released.

Although German officials believe the suspected gunman’s motive was racist, they have not said if there are any connections to far-right groups.

"We have no evidence in our current investigation that there were contacts with the right-wing or far-right scene," Badle told the BBC.

A vigil against racism was held in Frankfurt following the shooting on July 23 with 400 people in attendance, according to Al Jazeera. In a statement to the publication, Mayor Andreas Weiher said the vigil was for citizens to “think of the victim and his family, and send a signal against racist violence.”

The German government’s Commissioner for Migration, Refugees, and Integration Annette Widmann-Mauz said in a statement that the shooting cannot be tolerated.

"In the middle of Germany someone shoots at a man from Eritrea," she wrote on Twitter.

"Out of hate speech comes violence, out of hatred comes murder. We cannot and must not tolerate this! For this reason: no relativization, but consistent action against racism and far-right extremism."

In June, Stephan Ernst, a member of the far-right, confessed to murdering the pro-refugee leader of the Kassel regional government in Germany. Ernst, 45, was arrested two weeks after German politician Walter Lübcke, 65, was found dead outside of his house on June 2, The Guardian previously reported. Lübcke, a supporter of migrant rights, had received death threats over his stance.

German interior minister, Horst Seehofer, said that the incident was a “political murder” and Ernst had admitted that his motive was based on Lübcke’s pro-refugee stance. Ernst said he was enraged over Lübcke’s comments during a town hall meeting in 2015 when the politician discussed having a new shelter built for the thousands of asylum seekers entering the country.

“One has to stand up for values here. And those who don’t do so can leave this country any time, if they don’t like it. That’s the freedom of every German,” Lübcke previously said during the meeting, according to The Guardian.

Investigators said that Ernst had contact with the far-right NPD party and the neo-Nazi group Combat 18. In 1993, he served time in prison for attempting to plant a pipe bomb outside of a home for asylum seekers, according to the publication. He also assaulted someone during a neo-Nazi march in Dortmund back in 2009.

Ernst has told officials he acted alone in the shooting, but Seehofer said they would continue to investigate the murder.

“We will continue to work hard to establish whether there were accessories or even accomplices. We owe that to the public,” Seehofer said.

There has been an increase in right-wing violence in Germany, according to an annual report on threats to the stability of Germany's democratic constitution.. The report, which was released in June, states that there were 48 extreme acts of violence tied to far-right extremists, which is up from the 28 that occurred the previous year, according to Politico. Six of those acts included racially motivated murder attempts. The report also found that there were 24,100 right-wing extremists in Germany in 2018, which is an increase of 100 people from 2017.

The report revealed that out of the 24,100 right-wing extremists, there are about 12,700 people that are considered to be “violence oriented.” The findings of the report also indicated there was an “increase in sedition with anti-Semitic motives.”

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.