Austrian poacher dies in fire after killing four: police
VIENNA - Agence France-Presse
Austrian army APCs approach a crime scene near Melk some 80 km west of Vienna September 17, 2013. A suspected game poacher shot two policemen and a paramedic after they tried to arrest him in woodland, police said on Thursday. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter BaderAustrian police pursuing a poacher who killed three police officers and a paramedic while fleeing arrest said Sept.18 they believe they have found his charred remains in a hidden room at his farmhouse.
Hundreds of armed police backed by army tanks had surrounded the house since Tuesday, in a drama that broke out the day before when Alois Huber was stopped by commandos acting on a tip-off he was hunting illegally.
"Police officers wanted to open the door" to the hidden room but "fire broke out" said police spokesman Roland Scherscher in the early hours of Wednesday after a lengthy stand-off.
When the fire was brought under control "the charred body of a man, believed to be the poacher and murder suspect, was discovered" after a five-hour operation, he added.
"It is one of the saddest days," a visibly emotional Scherscher told reporters earlier Tuesday of the four killings.
The three slain police officers were aged between 38 and 51 while the dead Red Cross paramedic was said to be 70.
The paramedic, Johann Dorfwirth, had received numerous awards during a long career, local Red Cross chief Willi Sauer said.
The deadly drama began Monday when elite "Cobra" force commandos attempted to stop Huber, a well-known poacher, in his car near the town of Annaberg.
He drove through a road block and opened fire, fatally shooting one of the police commandos in the neck.
Less than an hour later, while the commando was still receiving medical treatment, he opened fire again, killing the driver of an ambulance called to the scene and injuring a second policeman.
The suspect, who owns a small transport company, then fled on foot, travelling several kilometres before firing at two other police officers, killing one on the spot and taking the other hostage.
He stole their police car and drove, with his captive, some 60 kilometres (37 miles) to his farmhouse at Grosspriel near the city of Melk.
Police said on Tuesday that the dead body of the officer taken hostage had been found in the police car in a shed at the farm.
The house had been surrounded since around 7:00 am (0500 GMT) Tuesday by around 100 police as Huber, who had an arsenal of hunting guns, continued to fire at them.
He legally owned several weapons and a hoard of ammunition, and reports said among his firearms was a powerful hunting rifle able to pierce protective clothing.
Hunting is a popular pastime in Austria. Huber was well known locally for defying police and licensed hunters, often leaving the heads of dead animals on roads.
Huber was said to have had his hunting licence revoked several years ago following a brawl with other hunters in the area.
He was particularly fond of deer trophies, but his own land had no deer on it -- leading to the persistent acts of poaching, other local hunters said.