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Autobahn shooter had road rage

June 25, 2013

Police have arrested a truck driver believed to be responsible for a series of more than 700 shootings on the country's highways over five years. Police said the attacker was motivated by road rage.

ARCHIV - Ein Lastwagen fährt auf der Autobahn A43 bei Dülmen (NRW) unter einer Maut-Kontrollbrücke durch (Archivbild vom 28.7.2003). Aus den steigenden Einnahmen der Lkw-Maut werden in Nordrhein-Westfalen drei Autobahnprojekte finanziert. Für den Neubau der A 44 zwischen Ratingen und Velbert sowie Bauvorhabenan der A 44 bei Bochum-Witten und an der A 57 bei Neuss-Kaarst seien rund 230 Millionen Euro veranschlagt, teilte das Düsseldorfer Verkehrsministerium am Mittwoch (17.12.2008) mit. Foto: Rolf Vennenbernd dpa/lnw +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

Jörg Ziercke, the president of Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office, said in a press conference on Tuesday that the truck driver from North-Rhine Westphalia was motivated by "anger and frustration on the road."

The man considered the shootings a form of self justice and saw the situation on Germany's Autobahn as a form of war, said the chief public prosecutor from Würzburg, Dietrich Geuder.

He was a "frustrated loner with a hatred for people," Geuder said.

Most wanted criminal

Police arrested the 57-year-old in his home in the west German rural Eifel region on Sunday, seizing 1,300 rounds of ammunition and several firearms, one of which has meanwhile been identified as the weapon used in the shootings.

His capture brings to an end the search for one of Germany's most wanted criminals.

Starting in 2008, shots were fired at trucks loaded with cars travelling along the Autobahn, mainly in western and southern Germany. According to investigators the shots were fired from a vehicle driving at oncoming traffic.

Although the shooter did not seem to be targeting drivers, in one of the shootings, a woman driving a car was seriously injured in 2009 when a bullet hit her neck.

Roads under surveillance

Ninety police officers from all over Germany had been working to solve the case.

In November 2012, authorities had quadrupled a reward for information on the shootings to 100,000 euros ($131,000), saying that the assailant or assailants had started using more dangerous larger-caliber weapons.

"Rarely have we had an investigation with so many offenses, but at the same time so few clues," said Ziercke.

Surveillance cameras alongside German motorways were used to pinpoint the license plate of the alleged shooter's vehicle. The suspect was then personally observed by police and his cell phone was tapped.

The procedure of using surveillance cameras to read license plates has fuelled an ongoing discussion on privacy and data protection in Germany.

rg,dr/slk (dpa, AP)