Friday 22 September 2017

Murder suspect's charred body found in Austria

Austrian police hunting for the killer of four people found a charred body of what they believe was the gunman early today
Austrian police hunting for the killer of four people found a charred body of what they believe was the gunman early today
Police block the road to the premises belonging to a suspected poacher who had shot dead three policemen and a paramedic in Grosspriel near Melk
A view of the premises belonging to a suspected poacher who had shot dead three policemen and a paramedic
A view of the premises belonging to a suspected poacher who had shot dead three policemen and a paramedic, is seen in Kollapriel near Melk, about 80 km (50 miles) west of Vienna
Police block the road to the village of Kollapriel in Grosspriel some 80 km (50 miles) west of Vienna
Austrian army soldiers in armored vehicles arrive near the villages of Grosspriel and Kollapriel some 90 kilometers (55 miles) west of Vienna
Police stand near the villages of Grosspriel and Kollapriel some 90 kilometers (55 miles) west of Vienna, Austria

Police searching a farm for a gunman who killed four people in central Austria say they have found the charred body of what they believe was the suspect.

Regional police spokesman Roland Scherscher says the body was discovered early today after police pushed in a hidden door that opened into a concealed cellar in one of the buildings on the farm the gunman had holed up in.

The body was found more than a day after the gunman barricaded himself in a farm building near Melk, a town 40 miles west of Vienna.

Mr Scherscher told reporters that forensic experts still had to identify the body but police believe it was that of the gunman, who apparently set himself ablaze.

Police "had to push against the wall to enter the room," he said.

Because "the perpetrator could have been hiding behind each corner," the search took more than four hours as police cautiously combed through the two storey building.

Police said final identification and cause of death would have to wait until forensic experts had finished their work. They said the assumption was that the suspect had started the fire.

The gunman killed three police officers and a paramedic early yesterday before barricading himself in the farm building.

During the 12-hour stand-off, he shot sporadically at heavily armed police. Police said he fired the last shot about an hour before helmeted officers wearing body armour and carrying assault rifles piled into three Austrian army tanks and moved in. More than 100 police officers cordoned off the area.

Austrian media said the man was a suspected poacher. Police named the suspect as 55-year-old Alois Huber, owner of a trucking firm.

The killings began about 24 hours before the suspect barricaded himself, after police stopped the man on a road near a wilderness area west of Vienna where there has been frequent poaching.

The gunman fled in his car, which landed in a ditch near the central Austrian town of Annaberg, then shot and wounded a member of Austria's Cobra SWAT team at a police checkpoint, said Interior Ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundboeck. The police officer later died.

An ambulance raced to the scene, but the gunman shot and killed its driver as he tried to give first aid to the wounded policeman. The gunman also shot and wounded another officer at the scene. Mr Grundboeck said he was expected to recover.

The attacker then fatally shot another police officer at a roadblock before barricading himself in the farm building .

Later yesterday, another officer who had been missing was found shot dead in his patrol car near the farm, said Mr Grundboeck.

Mr Scherscher said that officer was apparently killed after the suspect carjacked the police vehicle and took him hostage.

Mr Scherscher said he could not confirm an Austrian media report that the suspect was shot in the abdomen by police before he sought refuge inside the farm building.

The provincial government of Lower Austria ordered black flags flown from all public buildings in honour of the victims.

Tests showed the gunman had apparently killed himself with a shot to the head.

State Prosecutor Michaela Schnell said police "assume at this point that it was suicide."

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