Hödel used a revolver to shoot at the German Emperor, Wilhelm I, on 11 May 1878, while the 81-year-old and his daughter, Princess Louise of Prussia, paraded in their carriage. When the bullet missed, Hödel ran across the street and fired another round which also missed. In the commotion one of the people who tried to apprehend Hödel suffered severe internal injuries and died two days later.
Hödel was seized immediately. He was tried and convicted of high treason, and sentenced to death on 10 July by the Prussian State Court. Julius Krautz, Prussian state executioner, beheaded Hödel on 16 August 1878 in Moabit prison.