Suspects in killing of German police officers had no valid gun permit

Police officers block a road leading to the scene of a shooting that left two police officers dead in Ulmet, Germany on Monday. Photograph: Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images

German investigators say two police officers shot dead on Monday were “completely caught off guard” by their killers.

Two suspects – believed to be poachers – are in custody in the southwestern state of Rhineland-Palatinate after the double killing that has shocked Germany.

The two dead officers were a 24-year-old police trainee, identified only as Yasmin B, who was on her second patrol, and her 29-year-old colleague Alexander K.

They had been assigned a night patrol following a series of break-ins in regional towns near the city of Kaiserslautern. At 4.19am early on Monday, while performing random traffic checks, they radioed in a sighting of “suspicious persons . . . with a trunk full of wild game”.

Investigators believe that when Yasmin B asked the driver of the vehicle for his ID, he pulled out a weapon and shot her in the head at close range.

“She was completely caught off guard,” said Heiner Schmolzi, local police vice-president, at a press conference on Wednesday.

Her partner radioed in for emergency assistance, saying, “come quickly, they’re shooting at us”. Shots are audible in the background and the police vice-president said the second officer appears to have shot 14 times at his attacker.

Suspect’s ID

When police back-up arrived eight minutes later Alexander K lay seriously injured in undergrowth, and later died, while Yasmin B was already dead. Near her body, investigators found the ID of a man identified only as Andreas Johannes S. After a 13-hour manhunt they arrested the 38-year-old and a suspected accomplice, 32-year-old Florian V.

The suspected motive for the double killing: an attempt to cover-up their illegal poaching. The main suspect operated a company that sold wild game and, according to neighbours, occasionally used his garden for illegal target practice.

Despite regular complaints about his shooting and police raids, investigators said the man had no valid gun permit. After the killings a series of raids on Monday revealed an arsenal of weapons and munition belonging to the men, including shotguns and rifles, spread across several apartments.

“We are assuming that at least two of the weapons were used [in the killings],” said Stefan Orthen, senior state prosecutor, at the press conference. “We also assume that the two suspects fired shots.”

Investigators say the main suspect’s gun permit was revoked in 2008 after he aimed his weapon at another hunter. In 2020 he applied for a new licence but was refused. Investigators say the suspects face life sentences if found guilt of murder and five-year sentences if found guilty of poaching.