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A Student Has Died After She Confronted A Group Of Men Harassing Teenage Girls

Germany's president described Tugce Albayrak as a role model, and candlelight vigils have been held in her honor.

Posted on November 30, 2014, at 12:31 p.m. ET

Germans are mourning the death of young student Tugce Albayrak, who died after confronting a group of men harassing two teenage girls in the city of Offenbach.

Yusuf Kenan Albayrak / Via

Albayrak came to the aid of the girls on Nov. 15 after she heard their cries in the toilets of a McDonald's, the BBC reported.

Soon after, she was attacked in a car park by one of the men. Some reports suggest she was struck in the head with a stone or bat, while others say she was punched and hit her head on the pavement.

She sustained a serious head injury and was in a coma until Nov. 28, when her parents decided to turn off her life support after doctors told them she was brain-dead. She died on her 23rd birthday.

An 18-year-old Serbian man is in police custody and has reportedly confessed to the attack, according to German public radio station Deutsche Welle.

Yusuf Kenan Albayrak / Via

Germans have been holding candlelight vigils to honor Albayrak, whose death ignited a national debate about acts of civil courage.

Anadolu Agency / Getty Images
Anadolu Agency / Getty Images
Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

More than 100,000 people have signed an online petition to award Albayrak Germany's national order of merit.

President Joachim Gauck said he would check her eligibility, and described Albayrak as a "role model".

In a letter to the Albayrak family, Guack wrote:

Like countless citizens, I am shocked and appalled by this terrible act. Tugce has earned gratitude and respect from us all. She will always remain a role model to us, our entire country mourns with you. Where other people looked the other way, Tugce showed exemplary courage and moral fortitude.

Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

Deutsche Welle reported that police are still searching for the two girls Albayrak intervened to help.

Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

The German broadcaster also reported that McDonald's reviewed videotapes of the incident and defended the original non-intervention of its employees after criticism from the Albayrak family.

Anadolu Agency / Getty Images
Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.