A local politician from Angela Merkel’s party was found dead with a gunshot wound to his head, German police said on Monday.
With no weapon found at the scene and no discharge residues on the dead man’s body, investigators appear to have ruled out suicide and are investigating intentional homicide.
“We are looking for a perpetrator,” said the chief prosecutor, Horst Streiff.
Walter Lübcke, an administrative chief for the city of Kassel, in the central state of Hesse, was found at about half past midnight local time on Sunday on the terrace of his home. He had been shot in the head at close range with a handgun, police said.
The 65-year-old politician, who had celebrated his 10-year anniversary as administrative chief for the city only last month, left a wife and two adult sons.
The news magazine Der Spiegel described Lübcke as “a quiet man in the often heated state parliament of Wiesbaden, not a rabble-rouser in the front row”.
His Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party said Lübcke had “never been afraid to speak his mind”.
In 2015, at a time of when Merkel was facing vehement criticism for her handling of the refugee crisis, Lübcke spoke out in defence of his party leader’s decision not to close German borders, drawing anger from far-right activists.
At a public meeting in October 2015 that was attended by members of the local branch of anti-refugee movement Pegida, Lübcke drew jeers for his remarks: “You have to stand up for your values. If you don’t share those values, then anyone is free to leave this country if they don’t agree.”
However, Sabine Thurau, the Hesse state’s criminal police chief, said there was no evidence of a link between those comments and his death and that a 20-strong investigation team was searching for a possible motive and a suspect.