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CRIME

Baby among four killed as car runs down shoppers in German city of Trier

A baby was among four people killed and 15 injured when a car tore through a pedestrian shopping street in the southwestern German city of Trier on Tuesday, police said, after arresting the driver.

Baby among four killed as car runs down shoppers in German city of Trier
Police near the scene of the incident on Tuesday afternoon. Photo: DPA

Prosecutor Peter Fritzen said the driver, a 51-year-old Trier native, appeared to be suffering from “psychiatric problems” and had been under the influence of alcohol whilst at the wheel of his silver SUV.

Police, who have been questioning the suspect, said they had “no indications of a political motive”.

Prosecutors are considering requesting that the suspect be placed in psychiatric care, Fritzen told reporters.

At the same press conference, Trier mayor Wolfram Leibe said among the dead
were a nine-month-old baby and a 73-year-old woman.

READ ALSO: Two killed as car hits shoppers in German city of Trier

“I think this is Trier's darkest day since World War II,” he said.

Also killed were a 25-year-old woman and a 45-year-old man. Fifteen people
were injured, several seriously.

Malu Dreyer, premier of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate where Trier is located, expressed shock that a baby was among those killed by the driver's “insane act” and shared her condolences with all the affected families.

The baby's mother was being treated in hospital for injuries sustained in the rampage.

Witnesses had earlier described seeing people, including a young child in a stroller, being flung into the air as the car struck them.

'Traumatised'

The incident started around 1:50 pm and ended within four minutes of the first emergency calls arriving, with police intercepting the driver after he turned right off a main shopping street.

Police said he had ploughed through the streets for about a kilometre, leaving behind a trail of destruction.

Officers sealed off the area and cleared people from the city centre.

Smartphone footage from an eyewitness showed the arrest of the driver, who was seen lying face down on the street pinned down by several officers next to the damaged SUV.

He was the sole occupant of the vehicle.

An unnamed man who said he was a former neighbour of the suspect told NTV that the driver had a history of mental issues, as well as money worries and problems “with his father”.

Christmas shopping

Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced her “great sadness” at the events in Trier and said her thoughts were with the relatives of those who were “so suddenly and violently ripped from their lives” and with the injured, in a message shared by her spokesman.

Early footage from the scene showed stunned shoppers huddling outside stores festooned with Christmas decorations as sirens blared in the distance.

Debris from stalls and outdoor displays was strewn along the cobbled street.

Picturesque Trier, near the border with Luxembourg, traces its history back to the Roman Empire and is often called Germany's oldest city.

Although Germany is grappling with a second coronavirus wave that has forced restaurants, bars, sports and cultural centres to close, retailers have been allowed to stay open and many people were out Christmas shopping.

“It's lucky that the Christmas market has been cancelled because of corona, or it could have been much worse,” witness Frederic Fries told Welt TV.

The incident brought back memories of a truck rampage at a Berlin Christmas market that left 12 people dead in 2016, Germany's deadliest Islamist attack to date.

In January 2019, a German man injured eight people when he drove into crowds on New Year's Eve in the western cities of Bottrop and Essen. He was later taken into psychiatric care.

In April 2018, a German man ploughed his van into people seated outside a restaurant in the city of Münster, killing five before shooting himself dead. Investigators later said he had mental health problems.

READ ALSO: Ramming attack in Münster: What we know

 

Member comments

  1. I wonder why most of the driving incident culprits are labeled as mentally sick? Even though it is reported that the person had a history of such acts, why does he still have a driving license in his conditions.
    I am not sure the authorities being sorry is enough for the mother who lost her kid.

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CRIME

One injured in school shooting in Bremerhaven

One person was injured on Thursday when shots were fired in a school in the northern German city of Bremerhaven, police said, adding that they had arrested the suspected gunman.

One injured in school shooting in Bremerhaven

The shooting happened at the Lloyd Gymnasium school in the centre of Bremerhaven, a city on Germany’s North Sea coast, on Thursday morning. 

“The armed person has been arrested and is in police custody,” police said in a statement. The injured person was not a pupil, police said, adding that the person been taken to hospital.

“Students are in their classrooms with their teachers. The police have the situation on the ground under control,” the statement added.

Bremerhaven police tweeted that a large deployment was under way in the city centre and asked residents to avoid the Mayor-Martin-Donandt square and surrounding streets, in the vicinity of the Lloyd secondary school.

Local news site Nord24 said the person injured on Thursday was a woman who worked at the school.

They said a school pupil heard shots being fired and called the police. Pupils reportedly barricaded themselves in their classrooms.

Police launched a large-scale operation and cordoned off the area around the school while they carried out inquiries. 

Authorities set up a phone hotline for concerned parents. Many parents gathered in front of the school after being alerted by their children, local media reported. 

In a separate incident on Thursday, police in the eastern city of Leipzig said they had detained a 21-year-old student still at secondary school after being tipped off by Snapchat that he had posted pictures of himself with a gun and made unspecified threats.

The US social media platform alerted German authorities, prompting Leipzig police to take action.

 A police spokesman said that the 21-year-old did not pose a real threat, however, and only possessed an airsoft gun, a replica firearm that uses non-lethal, usually plastic, pellets.

‘Strict gun laws’

School shootings are relatively rare in Germany, a country with some of the strictest gun laws in Europe. But a recent spate has rattled the population.

Last week, investigators in Germany’s city of Essen said they foiled a school bomb assault, as they arrested a 16-year-old who is suspected to have been planning a “Nazi terror attack”.

Police in Essen stormed the teen’s room overnight, taking him into custody and uncovering 16 “pipe bombs”, as well as anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim material.

In January, an 18-year-old student opened fire in a lecture hall at Heidelberg University in southwestern Germany, killing a young woman and
injuring three others before fleeing the scene and turning the weapon on himself.

In 2009, a former pupil killed nine students, three teachers and three passers-by in a school shooting at Winnenden, in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. The gunman then killed himself.

In 2002, a 19-year-old former student, apparently in revenge for having been expelled, shot dead 16 people including 12 teachers and two students at a school in the central German city of Erfurt. He too then killed himself.

The Winnenden and Erfurt massacres were carried out with legal weapons and spurred Germany to tighten gun laws.

The country currently requires anyone under 25 to pass a psychiatric exam before applying for a gun licence.

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