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15th Day of Trial Short Report: “I had one life before October 9th and another one after it”

On September 23, 2020, on the 15th day of the Halle trial, a total of six witnesses testified. The primary focus was on the time period during which the accused tried to get a new car while fleeing. Several of the witnesses criticized the work of the police and the intrusiveness of the journalists. A couple who was shot at near Landsberg were interviewed, as well as a car mechanic, a cab operator and his brother, from whom the accused had extorted a getaway car. The day ended with the inspection of evidence from the crime scene and from the attacker’s car, which was presented by a Berlin State Police officer. 

Jens Z. was the first witness of the day and reported that he was picked up by his wife on October 9, 2019, and then did gardening work in the courtyard of his parents’ house. He had not been aware of the events in Halle. He heard a knocking at the courtyard door during the gardening work, whereupon he opened the courtyard gate and looked directly into the barrel of the attacker’s weapon. The assassin had asked him to hand over the key to his car, which was parked outside the door. Jens Z. replied that he did not have the key with him. The assassin then asked him for the key again. When he once again denied it, the attacker began “playing” with his weapon. Mr. Z. tried to turn around and escape. He noticed that blood was pouring out of his neck because the attacker shot him. He tried to get to the house to tell his wife to stay inside, but she had just come out the door, whereupon the attacker shot her in the hip. Dagmar M., the partner of Jens Z., fell to the ground immediately. The attacker approached her and asked her for the car keys. When she too denied it, the accused fiddled with his gun and ran towards Jens Z. again. The accused looked for something in his pockets, apparently did not find it, and then left the yard.

Jens Z. then locked all doors and tried to stop the heavy bleeding of his wound. His wife tried to call the police. They did not believe his wife on the phone about what happened or that they needed help. It was only when the next-door neighbor came to the rescue and explained to the operator on the phone what happened that the police agreed to help. Thereupon a policeman came to the property in a patrol car. He then commented on Jens Z.’s severe injuries with “Oh, shit!” and called for further help. Only then did he notice Dagmar M. and call for further help. Jens Z. was picked up by the rescue helicopter and underwent emergency surgery the same day. This was followed by a 10-day stay in hospital.

To this day, he is still suffering physically and psychologically from the crime, Jens Z. reported. Therapeutic help could only be organized very slowly by the affected persons themselves, since there had probably been repeated disputes about responsibility. Only since the summer of 2020 had he and his wife been able to claim such help. Even in coping with everyday life, the state does not support them with help, they organize it alone in the family circle.

Dagmar M.’s testimony coincided with that of her husband. On October 9, she suddenly heard a loud noise and thought that the chainsaw with which her husband had been working in the yard exploded or that the chain of the saw broke. Thereupon she hurried straight down to her husband. He ran towards her covered in blood. Shortly afterwards, she herself fell to the ground and did not immediately realize why this happened. Only then did she see the accused running toward her with his gun. The attacker had shot her in the hip. He came very close to her and asked for the car keys in a “whiny voice” and pointed to his wounding: “like a mama’s boy, like a softy”. 

When she called the emergency call center, they did not believe her immediately. Even a BILD reporter arrived at the scene before the police and the ambulance. “That makes you feel pretty screwed,” Dagmar M. says. When she finally sat in the ambulance, a police officer ripped open the door and rudely asked her for the car keys. She described the impression that if she hadn’t had it with her, the policeman would have “shagged her out of the ambulance as well.” Dagmar M. also had to undergo emergency surgery, the bullet wound was healing very slowly. Since the attack, she has been in very bad physical and psychological condition. She could no longer live her everyday life normally: “I have a life before October 9 and one after that. She has received no support from the state. Only the “Weisse Ring” and individual synagogue visitors had provided them with assistance. She had the feeling that she was forgotten by the community. Nor was Landsberg mentioned as a crime scene in the planned public commemoration event in Halle on October 9th, 2020. There was only talk of two crime scenes. Due to the commitment of the “Weissen Ring” this has now been changed.

The accused also took the floor on the 15th day of the trial. He did not have the plan to shoot the couple. He was only interested in the car. He shot in order to be taken seriously. He brought enough ammunition to shoot again. But after he got the impression that the couple really did not have the keys to the car with them, he let go and left the property with his gun loaded.

Following Dagmar W., the car mechanic Kai H. testified. On the day of the crime he changed two tires on two cabs when he suddenly heard two bangs. He estimated the distance to be 200 to 250 meters. He then went to the street and saw the accused going into the yard. Kai H. thought that someone had fallen off the ladder and wanted to help him. This calmed him down and prompted him to continue his work. Then Christian W. came running to him and shouted: “Kai, Kai – someone is there”. The attacker stood in front of the open gate of the workshop. Kai H. thought that he needed help and saw the injury and the gun. But even here he did not think of a crime. He thought that the accused injured himself with the pistol and now needed help. But when he was offered help, he replied: “I am a wanted felon and shot two people over there. I don’t want to do that with you. I need a car.” The assassin pointed to the cab, whereupon Kai H. asked the owner Daniel W. to hand over the key. W. did so. The accused threw two 50 Euro bills on the ground and asked to wait ten minutes before informing the police. At no time did he point the gun at Kai H., but he made it clear that he would do so if he did not cooperate.

Daniel W. said afterwards that he could locate his cab with the help of GPS software and would now track it with the other cab. Kai H., however, ran to the neighboring property to see if he could help there. He was very relieved that Jens Z. and Dagmar M. were still alive. He called an ambulance and gave first aid. 

After the incident, his family was able to support him emotionally. Nevertheless, fears remained. He had a black journeyman who was on sick leave that day. Kai H. does not want to imagine what would have happened if he had been there that day. He could not go to work for a while after the crime. On the one hand, he was emotionally incapable, on the other hand, his cell phone rang non-stop. The name of the workshop became public and his cell phone number could be found on the Internet, so the press wanted to interview him again and again.

Next, the cab operator Daniel W. testified. After describing the events at the garage, he reported how he pursued the accused by car. The accused drove normally, calmly and not aggressively. When Daniel W. encountered a police patrol at the neighboring town entrance, he stopped there to hand over the pursuit to them. The police officers replied, however, that they were on guard because of the incidents in Halle and could not leave the place. Daniel W. urged once again and made it clear that the cab was stolen and that the driver had shot two people. Daniel W. did not know anything about the incidents in Halle up to this point. He had located the car by means of a telephone call with the car manufacturer. He was very excited and accidentally ended the phone call prematurely. This very much annoyed the police officers, who wrote to him to tell him not to interfere in their affairs. 

To date, he has not received any recognition from the police or investigating authorities for his efforts in apprehending the perpetrator. Although he received a letter from the Federal Commissioner for Victims with the offer of a consultation in Berlin or Halle, Daniel W. did not receive any response to his request to come to Halle. He has also had to fight in court to this day over a loss of earnings due to the confiscation of the cab until December 2019.

Besides Daniel W., his brother Christian W. was also present in the workshop on the day of the crime. In court, he described how the accused pointed his gun directly at his head. He, W., thought at that time that everything was a joke and would dissolve at any moment. But the attacker then pointed out that he was a felon who just killed two people. Christian W. perceived the whole situation as if it were a kind of tunnel. It was particularly terrible that he did not know for a long time how his brother was doing and whether everything was okay with him. 

At the end of the trial day, a Berlin state police officer, who supported the investigations in Saxony-Anhalt, reported traces at the crime scene near Landsberg and in the getaway car. The accused also commented on these once again.

The trial will continue on Wednesday, September 30.