Walter Lubcke, a long-time member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party, was discovered dead in his garden early on Sunday morning, after being shot in the head at close range, Sky News reported.
Lubcke, 65, served as regional leader for the city of Kassel for 10 years. He was nearing the end of his leadership term, but this was eventually extended after a request that was accepted by state premier Volker Bouffier.
In October 2015, Lubcke came to national prominence when he spoke out in favor of providing accommodation for refugees. Germany had decided to let in Syrians fleeing the civil war, and many asylum seekers were crossing Germany’s borders then on a daily basis.
“Whoever does not support these values can leave this country any time, if he doesn’t agree. This is the freedom of every German,” he said.
These comments, which were made at a town hall meeting in Lohfelden, led to Lubcke’s receiving temporary police protection after he received threatening messages, Sky News reported.
German prosecutors said on Monday that they had found “no connection [between the threatening messages] and the current crime, according to our knowledge.”
A special commission consisting of 20 police officers has been launched to work on the investigation. While a motive has yet to be established, suicide has been ruled out.