The community of Hattenhofen, located in the foothills of the Swabian Jura, has 3,000 inhabitants. Gentle hills, meadow orchards. A bird sanctuary. The world should still be fine here.
And yet the small town in the district of Göppingen in Baden-Württemberg is still in shock. It's been two days since an attack on the FDP district councilor Georg Gallus junior abruptly destroyed the idyll in Hattenhofen. Early on Sunday morning, an unknown person fired several shots through the window of his apartment at the 65-year-old farmer, seriously injuring him.
Who does this and why? Two days after the crime, the police and the public prosecutor still have many unanswered questions. In particular, the motive for the attack is in the dark. It is completely unclear whether the FDP politician was targeted because of his political work or whether there may be completely different reasons for the attack on his remote farm between Zell and Hattenhofen. "The investigations are ongoing and are being conducted against unknown persons," says Michael Bischofsberger from the Ulm public prosecutor's office.
According to information from the "Südwest Presse", Gallus jr. apparently very lucky that he survived the attack. According to the newspaper, the unknown gunman hit his victim four times in the body. A number that the police in Ulm may not confirm, they only speak of several projectiles that would have hit the farmer. Gallus was taken to the hospital and underwent emergency surgery, but is out of danger. According to the Ulm police, the transfer to a normal ward had already been discussed yesterday.
In the meantime, there are increasing indications that Gallus jr. rather than a chance victim. The yard of the FDP politician is remote, the perpetrator must have approached through the garden. One photo shows four closely spaced bullet holes in the window pane. "The scene of the crime, the shots through the window and the time - all of this now allows us to assume that the crime was planned," said Michael Bischofsberger from the Ulm public prosecutor's office.
The mayor of the municipality finds it difficult to imagine a political motive. Gallus Jr. is an honorary thoroughbred politician, says Jochen Reutter. The 65-year-old took care of issues such as savings bank transactions or the closure of a smaller clinic. "Personally, I can hardly imagine that such a deed would develop from this political activity. But that's all just speculation," said Reutter.
In Ulm, the police have formed a special commission that is evaluating all the leads. A passage in the police press release from early Monday morning in particular made people sit up and take notice: "It will be checked whether there is a connection with the shots fired in the region in the past few weeks".
In fact, there has been a noticeable increase in shots in the Stuttgart area in the recent past, in which people were injured. Most recently, it hit a 32-year-old who was shot in front of a pizzeria in Stuttgart on Saturday night. There were other incidents in Plochingen and Eislingen, among others. There, too, individuals were shot and seriously injured by unknown persons.
But here, too, skepticism prevails: All of these cases are now being compared with one another, according to the police in Stuttgart. Among other things, the projectiles of the weapons and possible fingerprints would be compared. The traffic data would also be checked for cross hits. But that is standard, whether there could be any connections is completely uncertain, according to security circles.
In any case, Mayor Reutter has no explanation for the mysterious incident in his community. He says he is not aware of any hostility towards the honorary FDP politician. At the victim's farm there are Christmas tree sales, a farm and also celebrations such as weddings.
The victim's father was already in politics. From 1976 to 1993, Georg Gallus senior was Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Forestry. He was a member of the FDP state board in Baden-Württemberg and the FDP federal board for many years. "You know the family, you know him," says Mayor Jochen Reutter.
Sources: Südwest Presse, image, with DPA