A German man involved in the COVID-19 conspiracy community killed his wife and three daughters after his wife was caught with a fake vaccination card, police say.
German police say they believe a man, who has been referred to as Devid R., committed the quadruple murder-suicide last week. Prosecutor Gernot Bantleon told the German Press Agency on Tuesday that in a suicide note, the man indicated the couple was worried that the government would take their kids away because his wife was found with a fake vaccination certificate he’d provided to her.
Police say they believe Devid shot his daughters—aged 4, 8, and 10—and his wife, before turning the gun on himself. The 40-year-old man did not have a gun license, and police are investigating where the weapon came from. The man was reportedly a part of the anti-vaccine COVID-19 conspiracy group Querdenker, one of the central groups opposing COVID-19 regulations in Germany.
Like much of the rest of the world, Germany is in the midst of tightening up its regulations in light of the latest COVID variant of concern, Omicron. Residents are required to provide proof of vaccination to access some amenities, and some jobs also require their employees to be vaccinated. This was true of Devid’s wife, who was employed at a technical university. Her university noticed the fake vaccination card and asked her about it.
Local media reports that the punishment for faking a vaccination certificate is a year in prison or a fine and that authorities said Devid would have just been fined for providing her with the fake certificate.
A story by German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel reported that shortly before the deaths, a man with the name Devid joined a Querdenker (which translates to lateral thinkers) conspiracy group on Telegram focused on COVID-19 conspiracies and rallying against pandemic regulations. His last post came before the night of the violence. After the deaths, one of the members of the Telegram group wrote that the Querdenker had lost “a friend” and a “party member.”
A common trope in these conspiracy communities is the idea of incredibly severe repercussions for the unvaccinated from the government and how it’s only going to get worse. For example, discussion about looming concentration camps for the unvaccinated is incredibly common in COVID-19 conspiracy groups on Telegram. Der Tagesspiegel reported that some in the Querdenker have blamed the murders on the government and others are worried how it’s going to make them look.
The Querdenker movement has been able to rally tens of thousands of people into German streets, where they have clashed with police, to oppose pandemic measures. It's been compared to the massive QAnon movement that began in the United States before going global. Like other COVID-19 conspiracy movements across the globe, the Querdenker is made up of many smaller divergent groups who oppose pandemic measures. The group has worried German politicians and has been monitored by German intelligence agencies.
A similar tragedy occurred in the QAnon world earlier this year: A father allegedly murdered his two young children with a harpoon gun after being radicalized by online conspiracies and believing their deaths would help the world.
Authorities continue to investigate the incident.
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