International

May 1, 2014 1:17 PM by associated press

Dead German student's father slams US gun culture

The father of a 17-year-old German exchange student shot dead in Montana criticized the gun culture in the U.S. Thursday.

"America cannot continue to play cowboy," Celal Dede told the German news agency dpa after arriving in the U.S. to arrange the transport of his son Diren's body back to Germany.

Dede said he had never imagined his son could be shot for simply entering somebody's property. "I didn't think for one night that everyone here can kill somebody just because that person entered his backyard," Dede said. The 46-year-old father said he wouldn't have allowed his son to participate in the exchange if he had known. Dede said he hoped the man would receive a fair punishment.

Markus Kaarma, a homeowner in Missoula, Montana, on Sunday fired four blasts from a shotgun into his garage, killing Diren Dede who was inside. He faces a charge of deliberate homicide. It's not clear what the teen was doing in the garage. Prosecutors allege Kaarma shot into his garage without warning after Dede tripped sensors.

Kaarma's attorney, Paul Ryan, told The Associated Press Wednesday the homeowner didn't know whether the boy was armed or what his intentions were when he entered the garage.

"The young man made a choice and put the wheels in motion that ultimately created this whole situation," Ryan said. Dede's mother and two sisters, hundreds of friends and neighbors and members of his soccer club arranged a farewell game Wednesday night in his hometown of Hamburg. Many were sporting T-shirts with Dede's picture on it and held up posters and photos of the killed teenager. A big banner saying "Our brother is dying while America is looking on" was put up on the sidelines of the soccer field. Some bystanders laid roses for Dede.

Dpa reported that Dede would be buried in Bodrum, Turkey, after a memorial service at Yeni-Beyazit Mosque in Hamburg. Dede's relatives are German-Turkish immigrants. The teen was studying for a year at a high school in Missoula and was to leave the U.S. after the school term ended in just a few weeks.

Read the story from our sister station in Montana HERE.

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