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CRIME

Public urinator sprays man with tear gas

A man confronting a drunk watering his front garden in Duisburg got more than he bargained for when the culprit retaliated with a tear gas attack.

Public urinator sprays man with tear gas
A communal public urination at the 2006 World Cup. Photo: DPA

The 42 year-old home owner in Duisburg, western Germany, caught sight of somebody urinating in his front garden on Tuesday and went outside to ask him to stop. 

After a brief verbal argument,  the drunken micturator pulled out a gas pistol and shot the man in the face, the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ) reported.

The pistol had released so much tear gas that when the victim's 38 year-old wife hurried out to see what was going on, she also suffered inflammation to her eyes.

The married couple had to be taken to hospital to receive treatment for their injuries.

“When you come into contact with tear gas, you understand the meaning of pain,” said police spokesman Joachim Wawrzeniewski

The doctors estimated that the gas must have been shot from a distance of two or three meters.

After shooting the man point in the face from point blank range, the drunken culprit fled the scene.

According to local police, he was blonde and was wearing a double-denim jeans-jacket combo, but neither the victim nor his wife could give an estimate regarding his age.

A tear gas pistol might not seem like a key ingredient for a night on the town, but adults are permitted to carry one by law in Germany.

As long as you have a small weapons permit, have registered the pistol with the police, and passed a number of tests, it is perfectly legal to carry one on your person.

But unsurprisingly, “it is illegal to shoot another member of the public with it,” said the police spokesman.

A public urination epidemic?

Lots of German cities are attempting to crack down on public urination with enormous fines for those caught in the act.

Here is a map showing how the possible punishments for relieving oneself on the go vary across the country: 

A map showing the various fines for public urination across Germany. Photo: adamus group GmbH

Berlin's unofficial motto may be “poor but sexy”, but the capital doesn’t seem too concerned about the smell of wee ruining the city's sexiness, with the lowest fine in Germany at only €20.

But other cities like Hannover, Stuttgart, Kaiserslautern, Erfurt and Halle seem much more determined to keep their streets in pristine condition, with fines going up to €5,000.

Peeing in the street is most common during big public events, as the deadly mix of copious amounts of alcohol and long queues for portaloos can tempt the most law-abiding citizen to find an opportune spot to relieve themselves.

Various cities raise the fines for special events, like in Cologne and other cities in the Rhineland during Carnival and Fasching, and in Munich during Oktoberfest.

St. Pauli, an area of Hamburg, has got creative in fighting the problem with the slogan “Don’t pee here, we pee back”.

A local interest group has covered opportune peeing spots in the area with liquid repellant paint so that public urinators will suffer splash back.

An anti-public urination initiative in Hamburg. Photo :DPA

“Public urination is a public offense and will be punished. By doing so people are disturbing the general public,” says Swen Walentowski, spokesman for the German Lawyers Magazine.

The legal situation is clear, but the punishment can vary hugely.

The level of the fine also depends on the location.

Urinating in parks or wooded areas will usually land you with a smaller fine, but doing so up against the wall of someone's house in the open street could hit the wallet hard.

By Matty Edwards

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CRIME

One injured in school shooting in Bremerhaven

A 21-year-old gunman opened fire at a secondary school in northern Germany on Thursday, badly injuring a female member of staff before being arrested, police said.

One injured in school shooting in Bremerhaven

The incident happened at the Lloyd Gymnasium school in the centre of Bremerhaven, a city on Germany’s North Sea coast, on Thursday morning. 

“The armed person has been arrested and is in police custody,” police said in a statement. The injured woman was not a pupil, police said.

They said the suspect had entered the school building and fired at a female member of staff, who was “seriously injured”.

The alarm was quickly raised and police said they detained the suspect at a nearby location soon after and had seized his weapon at the scene.

The injured woman is being treated in hospital.

A video circulating on social media and German news sites appeared to capture the moment the gunman was arrested.

A man dressed in black is seen lying face down on a street corner, with a weapon next to him, before being handcuffed by officers.

But there was no immediate confirmation of reports the alleged weapon was a crossbow.

Bremerhaven police tweeted in the morning that a large deployment was under way in the city centre and asked residents to avoid the Mayor-Martin-Donandt square and surrounding streets, in the vicinity of the Lloyd secondary school.

Local news site Nord24 said a school pupil had heard shots being fired and called the police. Pupils barricaded themselves in their classrooms.

Police launched a large-scale operation and cordoned off the area around the school while they carried out inquiries. 

By mid-afternoon, police said special forces had completed their search and the last people had left the building.

Authorities set up a phone hotline for concerned parents. Many parents had gathered in front of the school after being alerted by their children.

Pupils and staff are receiving psychological counselling.

Local media said only around 200 people were on the school grounds, fewer than normal because of exam times.

In a separate incident on Thursday, police in the eastern city of Leipzig said they had detained a 21-year-old student still at secondary school after being tipped off by Snapchat that he had posted pictures of himself with a gun and made unspecified threats.

The US social media platform alerted German authorities, prompting Leipzig police to take action.

 A police spokesman said that the 21-year-old did not pose a real threat, however, and only possessed an airsoft gun, a replica firearm that uses non-lethal, usually plastic, pellets.

‘Strict gun laws’

School shootings are relatively rare in Germany, a country with some of the strictest gun laws in Europe. But a recent spate has rattled the population.

Last week, investigators in Germany’s city of Essen said they foiled a school bomb assault, as they arrested a 16-year-old who is suspected to have been planning a “Nazi terror attack”.

Police in Essen stormed the teen’s room overnight, taking him into custody and uncovering 16 “pipe bombs”, as well as anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim material.

In January, an 18-year-old student opened fire in a lecture hall at Heidelberg University in southwestern Germany, killing a young woman and
injuring three others before fleeing the scene and turning the weapon on himself.

In 2009, a former pupil killed nine students, three teachers and three passers-by in a school shooting at Winnenden, in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. The gunman then killed himself.

In 2002, a 19-year-old former student, apparently in revenge for having been expelled, shot dead 16 people including 12 teachers and two students at a school in the central German city of Erfurt. He too then killed himself.

The Winnenden and Erfurt massacres were carried out with legal weapons and spurred Germany to tighten gun laws.

The country currently requires anyone under 25 to pass a psychiatric exam before applying for a gun licence.

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