Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Suspect Arrested In More Than 700 European Highway Shootings

German police say they have arrested a 57-year-old trucker whom they accuse of carrying out 762 shootings on European highways over the past five years.

"We found the famous needle in a hay stack," said Joerg Ziercke, chief commissioner of the German Federal Criminal Police. "A dangerous criminal who on several thousands of kilometers of highway in Germany, France, Belgium and Austria would reach for a gun whenever, wherever to shoot at other vehicles and endanger people's lives. It's unprecedented in Germany criminal history."

Ziercke says the suspect — who was not identified as per German law — blamed road rage for his attacks. The trucker was arrested Sunday.

Only one person was wounded in the many shootings — a woman who Ziercke says was critically injured.

He told reporters at a news conference Tuesday in Wiesbaden, Germany, that guns and ammunition matching the caliber of those used in many of the shootings were confiscated at the suspect's home in North Rhine Westphalia. The trucker had no gun permit, Ziercke added.

Police say the highway attacks became more dangerous a year ago when the culprit began firing larger caliber ammunition.

The offer of a more than $130,000 reward failed to net any meaningful tips, Ziercke noted. He said the case was cracked by investigators who combed through forensic evidence as well as information provided by highway cameras, cell towers and toll receipts.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit

Special correspondent Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is based in Berlin. Her reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and read at From 2012 until 2018 Nelson was NPR's bureau chief in Berlin. She won the ICFJ 2017 Excellence in International Reporting Award for her work in Central and Eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan.
KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.