Cops: Man Who Tried to Kill Rescue Workers Was Living With Mother's Corpse

Authorities say German man set police, firefighters on fire
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2023 5:20 PM CDT
Cops: German Man Set Emergency Workers on Fire
Forensics inspect the scene of an explosion in a high-rise building the day after the explosion seriously injured several police and firefighters, in Ratingen, Germany, Friday May 12, 2023.   (Roberto Pfeil/dpa via AP)

A German man accused of trying to kill emergency workers by setting them on fire had been living with his mother's corpse in a high-rise apartment packed full of canned food, bottled water, toilet paper, and other supplies, investigators say. The 57-year-old man has been charged with nine counts of attempted murder in connection with the May 11 incident, the Washington Post reports. Officers went to the apartment building in the town of Ratingen in western Germany because the building manager was concerned that a 91-year-old woman had not been seen for some time and mail was piling up, regional interior minister Herbert Reul said at a hearing Monday.

When police forced their way into the apartment, believing there could be a "helpless person" inside, they were attacked by the tenant's son, who sprayed them with a flammable liquid and set them on fire. "Emergency and rescue services, some of whom were still burning, ran from the 10th floor to the street," Reul said. Almost two weeks after the attack, three emergency workers are still in critical condition and five others are being treated for serious injuries. The female officer who was the first to enter the apartment suffered burns to 80% of her upper body.

The 91-year-old's severely decomposed body was found in a wheelchair. Authorities believe she died of natural causes some time ago. Authorities say handwritten notes found in the apartment show that the suspect was influenced by anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. In one, he described the COVID-19 vaccine as the "vaccination of the devil," Spiegel reports. Investigators are trying to search the man's electronic devices but they were severely damaged by fire and water. Investigators are also trying to determine whether a 73-year-old man found dead in another apartment in the building is connected to the case. (More Germany stories.)

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