A 77-year-old licensed rabbit hunter was gunned down by cops in front of his wife as he stalked prey around a cemetery where he had been given permission to hunt.
The elderly hunter, whose name has not been reported, was shot dead after a stand-off with the police at a graveyard in Bochum in the north-western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
An eyewitness saw a man with a loaded gun walking around the cemetery and immediately called the local authorities.
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When two cops arrived at the leafy graveyard, they encountered the elderly man holding a hunting rifle.
A police spokesman said: “On the part of the weapon bearer, there was a threatening movement against the officials. For their own protection, the officers shot the 77-year-old man.”
A policewoman immediately took care of the gunshot wound to the man’s shoulder before he was rushed to hospital. However, the OAP died two days later.
The police and public prosecutor’s office have launched a full investigation into the shooting after it was revealed that the victim had a legal permit for his firearm and permission to hunt rabbits in the cemetery.
Reports said that the probe will be carried out by officers from the neighbouring city of Essen as to ensure impartiality.
Chief prosecutor Christian Kuhnert said: “He had a hunting licence. He also had permission to hunt in the cemetery under very limited conditions. It will be examined whether he was entitled to hunt at the time in question.”
A witness said that the victim was kneeling down when he was shot by the cops, although the authorities said that an autopsy did not provide any clear evidence for this claim.
However, the public prosecutor’s office will investigate the witness’ statement.
Kuhnert said: “We are still in the process of putting together the pieces, we are following different leads.”
Herbert Noack of the Bochum Hunting Association said that hunting in local cemeteries is common, although there are strict rules in place and it is only allowed outside of opening hours.
It is not known whether the 77-year-old man, who was reportedly with his wife at the time of his death, informed the authorities about the hunt before he set off.
The investigation is ongoing.