FREIBURG, Germany — About two hours before Pope Benedict XVI arrived to celebrate Mass in the cathedral square in Erfurt, police arrested a man who fired an air gun. Initial news reports said the man was at one of the far back entrances to the cathedral square.
A police spokesman in Freiburg, however, just reported that the shooter was far from the square and his actions were not directed at the pope. The spokesman said he was told the shooter told the arresting officers that he was protesting the massive police presence in Erfurt.
The incident occurred just a few hours before the pope was scheduled to arrive in Freiburg, the final leg of his four-day trip. The Freiburg police spokesman said he and his colleagues had not changed their security plans, “but of course, it is on our minds. Every officer will be aware” of what happened in Erfurt.
John Thavis, traveling on the pope’s plane, reported from Erfurt this statement from Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, papal spokesman: “There is no worry among members of the papal entourage.”
Father Lombardi said he was told a man several hundred yards from the altar fired a compressed-air gun, slightly injuring a private security guard. The man was arrested.
The spokesman told reporters that the pope was not informed about the incident.