West German media said Friday that if police had moved sooner, they might have prevented the deaths of three people killed in a 54-hour crime spree by a pair of bank robbers and an accomplice.
The two gunmen and a woman left a trail of terror across West Germany and the Netherlands before police were able to capture them Thursday in a shootout near Bonn.Authorities said they were "99 percent certain" that a bullet fired by a bandit was the one that killed an 18-year-old captive during the shootout.
"Did they have to die? Shouldn't the police have moved in much earlier?" the mass-circulation Bild newspaper asked in a front-page editorial.
One gunman, Hans-Juergen Roesner, 31, was shot in the thigh, said Reinhard Schmidt-Kuentzel, a spokesman for the North Rhine-Westphalia Interior Ministry. The other gunman, Dieter Degowski, 32, and Marion Irma Loeblich, the accomplice, were not injured, he said. All three were under arrest.
Police delivered two getaway vehicles and hundreds of thousands of dollars in efforts to persuade the group to free their hostages and surrender. The shooting sprees and car chases left at least five people injured.
"Police should have acted much more decisively and swiftly," said Heinz Guenther, a federal lawmaker with Chancellor Helmut Kohl's Christian Democratic Party.
Journalists were criticized for on-the-scene interviews with bandits.