Politician gunned down in fairy-tale German town

26th April 2013, Comments 0 comments

A 74-year-old gunman Friday killed a top official of the northern German town of Hamelin, world famous from an ancient fairy tale, before killing himself, police said.

"The perpetrator killed district administrator Ruediger Butte and then killed himself," a police spokesman said.

Gunfire broke out Friday morning in Butte's office at the main administrative building in the community of 60,000 people.

The police chief of neighbouring Goettingen, Robert Kruse, later told a news conference that a dispute between the elderly assailant and local authorities over a gun licence had preceded Friday's shooting.

The local man, whom Kruse described as a "gun fanatic", had been stripped of his permit in 1988 and in 2009 was charged with illegal possession of a firearm.

He was also known to police for other crimes including grievous bodily harm.

Investigators believe the gunman, who was not identified, tried to reach Butte repeatedly on the telephone before the shooting. It was not immediately clear whether the two knew each other personally.

Butte, 63, was married with two adult children and five grandchildren, according to his profile on the district website.

He served as a police officer, rising through the ranks to become the head of the State Crime Investigations Office of Lower Saxony from 2001 to 2005.

Butte had served as district administrator of Hamelin-Pyrmont, an elected office, since 2005.

The district press officer, Sandra Lummitsch, fought back tears as she described the scene.

"I heard shots. The door opened and my colleague said 'Something terrible has happened'," she told local news agency DPA.

"No one can believe that this took place here."

She said she and her co-workers locked themselves in a room after a supervisor sent an email to all staff with a warning to stay where they were.

The picturesque town of Hamelin is best known for the folk tale of the Pied Piper, later popularised by the Brothers Grimm.

Its association with the medieval story of a disgruntled rat catcher who with his tune lures dozens of children from the town never to be seen again, draws more than four million tourists each year.

© 2013 AFP

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