A man likely faces murder charges after shooting a gas station attendant in the town of Idar-Oberstein in western Germany last weekend in an altercation over mask wearing, prosecutors have said.
According to local media reports, a 49-year-old man entered the petrol station shop without a mask on at about 7.45PM on Saturday night and attempted to purchase two six packs of beer, before the 20-year-old cashier refused to serve him, citing the shop’s masking policy.
Police say CCTV footage shows that about two hours later the customer returned with a mask that did not cover his nose, leading to another verbal altercation that ended with gunshots.
“Eventually he pulled a revolver from his pocket and fired a fatal shot at the 20-year-old student from Idar-Oberstein,” police said, according to the Guardian.
The suspect and the victim have not been identified by investigators.
Kai Fuhrmann, the district attorney in charge of the case, told the New York Times that the man refused to adjust his mask when prompted by the clerk before pulling an unregistered handgun and shooting the clerk once in the head, killing them instantly.
The suspect told the authorities that he saw the cashier as “responsible for the situation because he was enforcing the rules,” Fuhrmann said.
It is believed to be Germany's first fatality related to its strict COVID-19 prevention measures, which require full masking indoors.
The shooting has sparked concerns over the radicalisation of those opposed to COVID restrictions in Germany. Annalena Baerbock, the Green candidate for chancellor, tweeted, “I am greatly concerned about the radicalisation of the Querdenker [pandemic sceptics]. We all need to stand up to growing hatred.”