The Tragic Death of a German Exchange Student

On Monday, Diren’s body was flown to Bodrum, Turkey for burial. Diren’s family has a house in Bodrum where they spent summers. It was Diren’s favorite place.

Diren D., a German high school student from Hamburg, wanted to get a taste of American freedom during an exchange year abroad. Instead, he ended up dead. Are American gun laws to blame?

Diren D. was always the first to choose his team when playing the Xbox video game FIFA, and he always picked the Galatasaray Istanbul football team. He often played late into the night, and would dance through the living room of his American host family when he won. A 17-year-old German from Hamburg, Diren was spending a school year in Montana as an exchange student, and he was proud of his Turkish heritage.

He also played a few games on that fateful evening in late April when Germany and the United States would discover just how great the gulf separating them can be — here in Missoula, a small city in the Rocky Mountains.

A friend who was supposed to pick Diren up on the way to a party in the next town never showed up. So he spent the evening with Robby, an exchange student from Ecuador who became Diren’s best friend during his nine months in Missoula. They played video games for hours, until about midnight when they stepped out for a bit. Maybe they wanted to get a bit of fresh air — or they were looking for a bit of adventure. Or perhaps they just wanted a beer. But half an hour later, Diren was dead.

Two-hundred meters away, Markus Kaarma, 29, had just climbed out of his whirlpool with his partner Janelle Pflager. They made themselves comfortable on the couch and put the movie “Lincoln” into their DVD player. Just two months before, the couple had moved from the state of Washington to Missoula and since then, their home had been broken into twice, according to the police report produced later. Their house, at 2607 Deer Canyon Court, is a large one, with four bedrooms, three baths and a two-car garage. Kaarma keeps his front lawn neatly mowed, in keeping with the upper-middle class neighborhood. He and Pflager have a 10-month old son — and the feeling that they can’t count on the police. That they have to take care of themselves.

Which is why they had prepared their garage in the event of an intruder. Pflager had set up a motion sensor and a baby monitor and placed her handbag on a refrigerator in the garage. Inside the bag were personal items that she had catalogued, including a pill bottle with her name on it so as to provide evidence in the event of theft. They left the garage door open.

Read more at Der Spiegel

Categories: Gun control, History, Obituaries, Politics, Psychohistory

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