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German trucker confesses to autobahn shootings, police say

This report has been corrected.

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — A German truck driver has confessed to shooting at vehicles on the country’s highways, Germany’s Federal Criminal Police said Tuesday.

The 57-year-old man was arrested Monday in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Police said they found guns in the man’s possession.

Since July of 2008, there have been a series of attacks on vehicles in the states of Rhineland Pfalz, Hessen, Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. Police said there were more than 700 incidents of vehicles being fired upon. Most of the shots were fired at commercial trucks transporting new cars. In one case, a woman driving on autobahn A3 near Würzburg was injured.

Sandra Clemens, spokeswoman with Germany’s Federal Criminal Police, said it has been one big “puzzle” to solve the case.

The investigators had to deal with huge loads of data that they gathered from hidden license plate readers and from evaluation of cell phone connections, she said.

According to a press release from the German police, the risk of injury in the shootings increased in 2012 when investigators found out that the perpetrator began using 9mm ammunition instead of .22-caliber bullets.

According to The Associated Press, the man was brought before a judge Monday and ordered held pending formal charges. Last November, authorities quadrupled a reward for information on the shootings to 100,000 euros (about $131,000), saying that the assailant or assailants had started using more dangerous weapons.

Clemens said it is not clear what the shooter’s motive was.

kloeckner.marcus@stripes.com

Correction

The report originally misstated the type of bullet as being 22mm. The perpetrator used .22-caliber.

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