US soldier fatally shot in German standoff

March 14, 2008 7:02:15 PM PDT
A U.S. soldier who took his ex-girlfriend hostage in a south German town was fatally shot in a confrontation with police, a police spokesman said Friday. The 30-year-old soldier, stationed in Schweinfurt, tied up his ex-girlfriend in her apartment in the southern town of Koenigsberg and threatened her with violence, police spokesman Karl-Heinz Schmitt said.

She managed to escape and alert police, who then started hunting for the soldier, and used a helicopter with a thermal camera to locate him in an area near the apartment at about 11 p.m. Thursday.

Police commandos found and confronted the soldier, who threatened them with an M4 rifle, according to a police statement.

"During the attempt to arrest the armed man, officers were threatened with the weapon" and police opened fire, the statement said.

The soldier was critically injured and was rushed to a Schweinfurt hospital. Emergency surgery was performed, but he died several hours later, police said.

It was not immediately clear whether the soldier fired at police, Schmitt said. The incident, including how the soldier managed to leave his base with the rifle, is under investigation.

U.S. Army V Corps spokeswoman Hilde Patton said the soldier was from the 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, known as the "Dagger" brigade.

"The Dagger Brigade Chain of Command is cooperating fully with the investigation being conducted jointly by U.S. Army and German authorities," she said.

"The Dagger Brigade, along with United States Army Europe, takes incidents of this nature extremely seriously and will continue to work with the German authorities to maintain community safety."

The soldier's name was being withheld until his relatives are notified. Patton would not comment on other details, such as his rank or job within the brigade.

The U.S. military has been shuttering many facilities in Germany in recent years. However, there is still a large presence in Bavaria, and several units are based in Schweinfurt.