In the middle of downtown Berlin, a driver crashes into a group of people. A teacher from Hesse dies, students are injured. Hours after the incident, the Berlin Senator for the Interior classified the events as an amoktat.
A driver hit a group of people near the Berlin Memorial Church and killed a teacher from Hesse. Among the many injured were numerous tenth-grade students from Bad Arolsen. According to the current status, a teacher was seriously injured. This was announced by the Hessian state government. Berlin's Senator for the Interior, Iris Spranger, said on Twitter that, according to the latest information, it was "an amok attempt by a mentally handicapped person".
According to information from police circles, the suspect should be mentally disturbed. In the car, which was driven by a 29-year-old German-Armenian living in Berlin, not only documents but also posters with inscriptions were found. "There is no real letter of confession," said Berlin's Senator for the Interior, Iris Spranger. Police circles had previously said that a letter of confession had been found in the car. Spranger spoke of "posters" that would contain statements about Turkey. The exact motivation of the driver must be examined, the statements would be checked carefully.
The police, with the support of a special task force, searched the driver's home. The operation took place in the Charlottenburg district. In addition, the police had contact with the sister of the driver who was driving her car. The 29-year-old is said to have been known to the police for several crimes, but not in connection with extremism.
Police President Barbara Slowik spoke of a "suspect" who is now in the hospital. At the moment there is no relevant knowledge of a political motivation. There was no mention of a random accident in the statements. The students from Hesse would be looked after psychologically, said Spranger. She announced that the suspect would be checked in all directions. The driver was taken to a hospital. According to the fire department, a total of six people suffered life-threatening injuries in the incident on Wednesday morning. There were also three seriously injured and several slightly injured. An exact total number of victims of the incident on Ku'damm and Tauentzienstraße was not initially known.
In the evening, a memorial service was held in the Memorial Church, near which the incident took place. The police set up a telephone hotline for relatives, and pastors were also on site. The driver of the car had been arrested. He was initially held by passers-by, said police spokesman Thilo Cablitz. The police checked whether it was an accident, a medical emergency or an intentional act.
According to the current status, the incident on Wednesday went like this: The man drove the small Renault car on the corner of Ku'damm and Rankestrasse late in the morning onto the sidewalk of Ku'damm and into the group of people. Then he drove to the intersection and just under 200 meters further east on Tauentzienstrasse. Shortly before the corner of Marburger Strasse, he steered the car off the road onto the sidewalk again, touched another car, crossed Marburger Strasse and ended up in the window of a perfumery shop.
The Federal Government, Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser and Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier were dismayed by what had happened. "My thoughts are with the seriously and very seriously injured, with the fatality," said Steinmeier. "And they are with those who had to experience terrible things. My deepest sympathy goes to them, all their relatives and survivors." Berlin's Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey promised support to those affected.
According to their own statements, the police were on duty with around 130 forces on Wednesday morning, and the officers used a helicopter to get an overview from the air. The fire brigade was on site with 100 forces. The area was cordoned off over a large area. The police called on people not to post pictures of the fatal incident on the shopping street on the Internet. Hesse's Minister of Education, Alexander Lorz, said: "We immediately sent emergency care teams to Bad Arolsen to help relatives, classmates and teachers." A team from the school is on its way to Berlin to support the young people on site and their parents.
The scene of the accident is not far from the Memorial Church on Breitscheidplatz in Berlin-Charlottenburg. In December 2016, an Islamist assassin drove into a Christmas market there. A total of 13 people died and more than 70 were injured as a result of the long-term effects. The area where the fatal incident took place on Wednesday is often very busy due to the many shops, cafes and sights. It is a magnet for tourists from home and abroad. The case also brought back memories in Berlin of a rampage on the A100 city autobahn in August 2020, when a driver deliberately rammed three motorcyclists. He was committed to psychiatry by the court.