BERLIN (AP) — An armed anti-government extremist trying to prevent his eviction was wounded in an exchange of gunfire with police Thursday in an eastern German town.
Authorities said two officers also suffered minor injuries — one a gunfire graze on the neck, the other a bite wound — as about 100 officers were deployed against the 41-year-old man and a crowd of his militant supporters.
The Saxony-Anhalt state police said trouble flared in Reuden, about 20 kilometers (13 miles) south of Leipzig, as 15 people who had gathered on the property to support the man hurled bricks and other objects at officers.
“Both the 41-year-old and members of the tactical armed response unit subsequently deployed firearms,” police spokeswoman Ulrike Diener told The Associated Press.
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Diener said the man — identified by German media as Adrian Ursache, a former holder of the “Mister Germany” modeling contest title — was seriously injured and airlifted to a hospital. She said both officers’ wounds were not serious.
“The exact sequence of events, who shot first and so on, is currently being investigated,” she said.
Police described the wounded man as a member of the Reich Citizens’ Movement, an extremist group that refuses to acknowledge the authority of the post-war Federal Republic of Germany. They have been compared to the U.S. sovereign citizen movement.
A recent report by Berlin’s state intelligence service describes the Reich Citizens’ Movement as “an extremely diverse range of small groups and individuals who believe in an ideological mixture of conspiracy theories, anti-Semitic and anti-democratic views, and who have been behaving increasingly aggressively for some time.”
Before Thursday’s conflict, Reich citizens mostly were known for aggravating German authorities by pursuing obscure legal claims, not outright violence.
A 2014 brochure by the state of Saxony-Anhalt advised officials not to engage in discussions with Reich citizens, noting: “They can’t usually be reached with rational arguments.”