In the heart of Berlin, a driver hits a group of schoolchildren. A teacher dies. The case caused consternation across Germany. Politicians and police search for the right words as signs of a killing spree mount.
The deadly incident involving a car near the Berlin Memorial Church caused horror – and Chancellor Olaf Scholz now describes it as an “amoktat”. “The cruel shooting on Tauentzienstrasse affects me deeply,” wrote the SPD politician on Twitter on Wednesday evening. According to the latest knowledge, the driver of the car that hit a group of students and killed the teacher was probably mentally impaired.
“The trip of a Hessian school class to Berlin ends in a nightmare. We are thinking of the relatives of the dead and the injured, including many children. I wish you all a speedy recovery,” Scholz continued. According to the police, 14 people were injured in addition to the killed teacher on Wednesday evening, several of them life-threateningly. The sadness and sympathy from all over Germany were enormous.
“Amoktat of a mentally handicapped person”
A suspect – a 29-year-old German-Armenian living in Berlin – was caught and taken to a hospital. The Berlin Senate Department for the Interior quoted Interior Senator Iris Spranger (SPD) on Twitter in the evening as saying: “I’m back in my situation center: According to the latest information, today’s events are taking place at the
A spokesman for the Berlin police told the German Press Agency in the evening: “There are indications that support the theory of a psychological state of emergency.” But it is one of several possible versions. “After searches, investigations and trace analysis continue intensively,” wrote the police on Twitter.
Police chief Barbara Slowik had also previously emphasized the openness of the investigations on RBB: “Nothing is being ruled out at the moment,” she said. The investigation would be conducted by a homicide squad. Among other things, the driver’s apartment in Charlottenburg was searched.
Posters but no confession letter
In addition to documents, posters with inscriptions were also found in the car. “There is no real letter of confession,” said Interior Senator Spranger. Police circles had previously said that a letter of confession had been found. Spranger spoke of “posters” that contained statements about Turkey. According to dpa information, the driver was driving a car that belonged to his older sister. He is said to have been known to the police for several offences, but not in connection with extremism. The suspect’s sister told a “Bild” reporter: “He has serious problems.” According to the newspaper, neighbors were amazed “that he is capable of such a day.”
One currently has no knowledge against the driver on the part of the protection of the constitution, said Spranger in the RBB “Abendschau”. She expressed her condolences to the bereaved and relatives and announced a mourning flag in Berlin for Thursday.
Commemoration in Berlin
In the evening, numerous people commemorated the woman killed and the injured in the Memorial Church. Federal Minister for Family Affairs Lisa Paus (Greens), Berlin’s Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey and Senator for Education Astrid-Sabine Busse (both SPD) as well as emergency services from the fire brigade and police were on site. Citizens also expressed their sympathy during the prayer.
As far as is known, the incident in the heart of Berlin took place as follows: The man drove the small Renault car onto the sidewalk of Ku’damm and into the group of people on the corner of Ku’damm and Rankestrasse in the morning. 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 landed in the window of a perfumery.
The Federal Government, Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) 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.” Mayor Giffey promised support to those affected.
Telephone hotline for relatives
The police set up a telephone hotline for relatives, and pastors were on site. 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 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. 13 people died and more than 70 were injured as a result of the long-term effects. The case on Wednesday also brought back memories in Berlin of a rampage on the A100 city motorway in August 2020, when a driver deliberately rammed three motorcyclists. He was committed to psychiatry by the court.