How deadly is a knife when thrown

Almost four months ago a gunman killed a person in Grafing-Bahnhof. He seriously injured three others with his knife. One of them is Johannes Buchner, 58. Here he tells for the first time how he experienced the day - and survived.

Rampage in Grafing: a victim tells

by Josef Ametsbichler and Michael Acker

Grafing - This Tuesday in May starts well for Johannes Buchner, 58. It's warm and dry, the newspapers are thin. He takes the bike, not the car. He takes it when it rains. As every day, the newspaper delivery person starts his round early in the morning at 2.30 a.m. He's been doing the job for 30 years. When it dawns and the birds start chirping, Johannes Buchner, whom everyone just calls “Hannes”, still has 150 of the 400 newspapers in his bicycle basket, which he has mounted on the handlebars.

It is about 5 o'clock. In Grafing-Bahnhof, Buchner turns into the main street at the “Taverna Orfeas”, the Greek restaurant. Opposite is the train station. On the traffic island in between, he sees two people, one on a bicycle, the other tugging at him. Buchner thinks they are drunk. A fateful fallacy.

It's May 10th - the mentally confused gunman Paul H., 27, stabbed people at random in the town in the Ebersberg district. After the first report, it is said that he is an Islamist. That later turns out to be wrong. One person dies, three are seriously injured. One of them: Hannes Buchner.

When the newspaper deliverer cycles past the two figures that morning, everything goes very quickly. Before Buchner realizes that a violent criminal has just stabbed his victim, Paul H. rams a knife in the back. 15 centimeters deep.

"You don't even notice it," says Buchner three and a half months after the crime. He falls upside down on the asphalt and knocks out several teeth. He lies helpless and has to watch the assassin run to the S-Bahn and attack another man there, says Buchner. He can no longer feel his right leg himself, he calls for help for minutes. He sees the perpetrator running away.

Two first aiders take care of Buchner. But suddenly Paul H. reappears in front of him. He was hiding at the train station, now he is walking towards Buchner, he no longer has the knife in his hand. “Where's the police?” He asks - and Johannes Buchner notices immediately: He's dealing with a maniac.

"Give me a beating so that I can at least defend myself," said Buchner to his helpers. But the murderer, he remembers, stops five meters in front of him. The police arrive shortly afterwards.

These are dramatic minutes that have turned Buchner's life upside down. "Free and easy" has been his motto so far, free and easy. When you hear him talk, he seems to have taken the drama well - like others the flu. But maybe that's just his way of dealing with the crime. Since then he has been dragging his right leg, he walks stairs “like a 90-year-old”, as he himself says. “I've now taken rehab into my own hands.” In the morning, Buchner rides his bike for an hour every day, and in the afternoon he does a two-hour “race with the snails in the Ebersberg Forest,” he says and has to laugh.

He has had the hardest weeks. Immediately after the attack, he was taken to the Murnau Accident Clinic by helicopter. He has to stay there for two and a half months. He receives the best news on the very first day: the puncture canal goes half a centimeter past the spine - five millimeters, which protects him from paraplegia.

After an operation, Buchner slowly regains his strength. For two days he sits in a wheelchair, then on the balcony reading crime novels - “a good 20 big hams”. He learns to walk again. First with the rollator, then with crutches. After seven weeks he is dragging himself forward without a walker, his will keeps him on his feet. He sends the psychologist away. “I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he says. With that he ticks off his fate.

With him in the room are three wheelchair users, paraplegics. “They couldn't even go to the bathroom on their own. When you see the misery, you don't need to complain, ”he says.

Even so, he often thinks of the moment when he is badly injured on the floor. And look the perpetrator in the eye. He's not afraid, he says. And he's lucky: two young Ebersberg police officers arrest Paul H., who doesn't resist. His lawyer will later say that his client was probably insane in the act. Instead of imprisonment, the carpenter from Hesse is threatened with placement in a psychiatric ward. Buchner doesn't care how the process ends. “I don't care.” He feels neither hate nor pity for his attacker. "I feel much more sorry for the family of the man who died." It was a family man, 56, from Wasserburg.

At the Murnau Accident Clinic, Buchner is not only a patient, but also a sought-after conversation partner. The Kripo pestered him with questions, an expert examines every scar and his stab wound after the operation, these are important pieces of evidence. To do this, she even lets the freshly applied pressure bandage open. Buchner is surprised, but takes it with composure.

He has less understanding for curious visitors who try to get to his sick bed. He only allows his “closest circle” to come to him. He wants peace and quiet and no false pity. The newspaper deliverer, on the other hand, was delighted to receive more than 300 cards with wishes for wellbeing. He was written by friends, acquaintances, subscribers, but also by strangers whom his fate has moved.

When Buchner left the clinic after nine and a half weeks, he was not only in poor health, but also financially. “You really go out there as a poor pig,” he says. During the time the Grafinger is in sick bed, he cannot earn any money with his small horticultural business, which he runs alongside his newspaper job. The costs for his vehicles, however, continue to run. Now he is going to sell them, because Buchner will probably never be able to do his job again. It will take a good two years for the nerves in his back to regenerate and for him to be able to use his legs properly again - if that works at all.

He is now 58. It probably boils down to retiring earlier than planned. “Maybe then I can mow someone's lawn,” he says. It is the only time during the conversation that he looks to the future.

Buchner lives in the now, he copes with one day after the other. “You have to be patient,” he says. He has enough to organize. Quite banal: on his trailer, which he parked in a residential area the day before the attack, he found three parking tickets after his return. Buchner calls, explains, negotiates - in the end he doesn't have to pay. He's still frustrated. “You have to beg for everything,” he says.

14 weeks have now passed - he is still waiting for the bridge for his knocked out teeth. What it will cost him is unclear. “If you're injured in a traffic accident, at least you'll get compensation for pain and suffering. There is not a cent for what happened to me. ”He contacted the victim protection organization Weißer Ring. This is part of his “begging tour”, as Buchner calls it. He grimaces. He, who has always done his own thing in his life, is visibly uncomfortable having to rely on others. Buchner has no internet, he prefers to be in the fresh air 18 hours a day. He has already helped many from the area in the garden. People appreciate his uncomplicated manner. Buchner still likes going to the “Greeks” in Grafing-Bahnhof for lunch, enjoying the meal less than 20 meters from the place where he was almost killed on May 10th.

He doesn't quarrel with his fate. “That can happen to you,” he says. "Gone stupid. Out."