BERLIN: On Tuesday, four people, including a nine-month-old boy, were killed and up to 15 injured when a speeding car ploughed into a pedestrian area in the western German city of Trier in what was said to be a deliberate act by the authorities.
Witnesses said pedestrians yelled in terror, and when it crashed into the shopping zone, others were hurled into the air by the driver.
“We arrested one individual, one vehicle was secured,” police said, adding that within minutes of the incident, a 51-year-old German suspect from the Trier area had been overwhelmed and was now being questioned, police said.
Attorney General Peter Fritzen later told a press conference that the suspect had drunk a large quantity of alcohol, and the police were not working under the premise that the attack had any radical Islamist intent.
Trier Mayor Wolfram Leibe said, “It seems like we’re talking about a suspect with mental problems, but we’re not supposed to make premature judgments.”
Authorities said it would be appropriate to perform a more detailed examination of his mental health to assess if he could be found criminally accountable.
The suspect had been in the car for the past few nights and did not appear to have a fixed address, a police official said. He leased a car that had been registered in the name of someone else and did not appear to have a criminal record.
Mayor Leibe said among the dead was a nine-month-old boy.
Roger Lewentz, Minister of the Interior of the State of Rheinland-Palatinate, said that two women, aged 25 and 73, and a male, 45, all from Trier, were also killed. Of the wounded, four were in critical condition. The route taken by the driver indicated that he committed the act on purpose, he added.
Leibe told a public broadcaster, “We have a driver who ran amok in town.”
“I just walked through the heart of the city and it was just bad. A teacher is lying on the deck, and the girl to whom she belongs is dead,’ he said. He told broadcaster N-TV that “totally traumatised” were people who witnessed the incident.