MAINZ, Germany — Two U.S. service members have been arrested in western Germany over the death of a man at a funfair, local police and the U.S. Air Force said Sunday.
A 28-year-old man was stabbed to death in an incident that followed an “argument” at the Säubrenner fair in the small town of Wittlich on Saturday night, police in the nearby city of Trier said in a statement.
Two male suspects have been arrested and have been identified as U.S. military personnel who visited the fair with friends, according to the statement.
Police said they initially identified a group of four people seen by witnesses at the scene of the crime, but zeroed in on two suspects only identified as U.S. servicemen, aged 25 and 26. Their names and ranks have not been released by German police or the U.S. Air Force in Europe.
The victim has also not been identified.
A police spokesman in Trier on Monday confirmed to NBC News that the victim is a German national. The two U.S. service members are stationed at the U.S. Air Force’s Spangdahlem Air Base, which is close to the town, the spokesperson said.
The two suspects have been handed over to the U.S. authorities, police said, who will take over the investigation “in accordance with the NATO troop statute.”
The U.S. Air Force confirmed that the two men were questioned and then transferred into U.S. custody.
“This is certainly an intolerable and preventable tragedy in our peaceful community,” Col. Kevin Crofton, commander of the 52nd Fighter Wing stationed at the base, said in the statement. “We thank the local Polizei and the Wittlich town leadership for their partnership and patience as the investigation runs its course,” he added.
Both service members will remain in U.S. custody during the investigation, the statement said.
In a release by the city of Wittlich on Saturday, the mayor of the western German town, Joachim Rodenkirch, was quoted as saying: “I am shocked and terribly sad that a young man died in such a brutal way at the Säubrenner fair, where many people come together to celebrate peacefully.”
He said that the incident at the annual fair, which he called “an important part of the city’s identity,” had “changed the city overnight.”
On Sunday, in a second news release, the mayor thanked police for the quick identification and arrest of the suspects.
The U.S. has long stationed military personnel in Germany, a close economic and military ally.
On its website, the Spangdahlem air base, which is home to the U.S. Air Force’s 52nd Fighter Wing, says it “provides Airpower options to deter and combat aggression” in NATO territory.
Andy Eckardt reported from Mainz, and Yuliya Talmazan from London.
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com