A German-Armenian man who killed a teacher and injured her students as he drove ‘full throttle’ into a crowd of shoppers in Berlin had ‘posters expressing views about Turkey’ in his car, it emerged tonight.
Police are still probing whether this morning’s horror was deliberate, but one investigator has now claimed: ‘This wasn’t an accident’.
The 29-year-old driver – named locally as Gor H. due to Germany privacy laws – was arrested shortly after he ploughed his car into the crowds, killing the 51-year-old teacher, who has not yet been named, and injuring 14 of her students, who are believed to be aged 16 and 17, as his car twice veered onto a pavement in a popular shopping district, officials have said.
Footage shows police leading him to a black BMW and shutting him inside. Just a short distance away, his own car sits buried in the front window of a perfume shop as badly wounded people he just ran over lie on the pavement.
As he is put into the car, the man turns to the man filming and says ‘bitte hilf’ – which translates as ‘please help’ -before the man responds ‘What help? You just killed two of us idiot.’ German newspaper Bild tonight reported that the man was being examined in hospital.
They also cited an unnamed investigator as saying: ‘(This was) by no means an accident – someone on the rampage, an ice-cold killer.’ While a source told the paper the man, thought to live in the capital with his sister, is known to police for ‘property crimes’.
Witnesses say he drove ‘very fast’ towards the pavement on Tauentzienstrausse – a street lined with shops and cafes – around 10.30am Wednesday before smashing into crowds of shoppers without braking. He then rejoined the road and drove another 600ft – past Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church – before hitting the shop.
One eyewitness said: ‘He drove at full throttle. At no point did he slow down.’
The man tried to flee the scene, witnesses added, but was held by two passersby until police arrived and arrested him. Officers have refused to say whether they believe the crash was deliberate.
It was earlier claimed that a confession note had been found inside his vehicle, but these were later reported to be documents relating to Turkey. Berlin’s top security official, Iris Sprange said the posters in the man’s car ‘expressed views’ about the country.
Meanwhile, the 51-year-old female teacher who was killed is believed to have been on a school trip with her students from a secondary school in the town of Bad Arolsen in northern Hesse. It is understood around 12 of them – believed to be teenagers – are among those hurt. A second teacher with the same class is also said to have been seriously hurt.
Six people have life-threatening injuries while three are in serious condition, fire crews said. A pregnant woman also suffered a broken hip.
Last night candles were lit outside the Kaulbach-Schule Bad Arolsen.
No motive behind the incident has been confirmed. Berlin police chief Barbara Slowik said the driver was in hospital and “at this time, we do not have conclusive evidence of a political act”.
Iris Spranger, Berlin’s interior affairs minister, said this evening: ‘The latest evidence suggests this is a case of a mentally ill person running amok’.
‘We haven’t clarified everything yet,’ Berlin’s mayor Franziska Giffey told reporters at the scene, while an Interior Ministry spokesperson told a regular federal government news conference in Berlin it was ‘too early to speculate’ about what caused the incident. She added the crash had brought back ‘terrible memories’ of the Breirscheidplatz attack.
According to Bild, two teams of heavily armed officers entered the apartment of the driver in Charlottenburg, Berlin this evening. So far, the operation was believed to be a security measure.
The crash happened just yards from where an Islamist extremist killed 12 people at a Christmas market in 2016 by ramming them with a stolen van.
This is the moment police in Germany arrested a 29-year-old German-Armenian man who had crashed his car twice into crowds of pedestrians, leaving at least one person dead and a dozen injured
At least one person is dead after a car ploughed into crowds of people on a street packed with shops and cafes in western Berlin around 10.30am Wednesday
Pictured: The smashed window screen and front bumper of the vehicle that crashed in Berlin
Dozens of people were hurt in the crash, some of them seriously, as local media said the car repeatedly mounted the pavement and hit people before the driver tried to flee
Last night two candles were lit outside the Kaulbach-Schule in the small town of Bad Arolsen, where the school trip came from
Dozens of firefighters, police and medics rushed to the scene – which is just a short distance from where 13 were killed in the 2016 Berlin Christmas market attack
Rescue workers help an injured person after a car crashed into a crowd of people in central Berlin, Germany
The silver Renault Clio is said to have mounted the pavement several times and rammed into people, before crashing through the front of a perfume shop
The approximate route the driver took is outlined in red, before he crashed and was tackled by passersby
Actor John Barrowman said he was inside a nearby shop when he heard a ‘bang’ and ran out to find ‘carnage’ including a dead body lying in the middle of the road
Fire crews help treat two young women who were wounded after a car mounted the pavement and drove into people in western Berlin on Wednesday morning
Fire crews strap an injured person to a stretcher after they were wounded by a car which mounted the pavement and ploughed into shoppers in Berlin on Wednesday
An air ambulance comes in to land on Rankestrausse, a busy shopping street in central Berlin where a car repeatedly mounted the pavement and drove into people on Wednesday morning
Police and fire crews rush to help people injured by a car in Berlin, as the vehicle sits embedded in the front of a perfume shop window. The driver has been arrested
Emergency responders stand at the site where a car ploughed into pedestrians in western Berlin on Wednesday morning
Armed police stand guard on the Berlin street where a car smashed into pedestrians – leaving at least one person dead
Berlin’s Mayor Franziska Giffey visits the crime scene where a car crashed into a group of people, near Breitscheidplatz in Berlin, Germany, June 8, 2022
Berlin’s Mayor Franziska Giffey speaks with members of the media, while visiting the crime scene where a car crashed into a group of people, near Breitscheidplatz in Berlin
Pictured: The silver Renault Clio that crashed into a group of people near Breitscheidplatz is towed away from the scene, in Berlin, Germany
Pictured left and right: The Silver Renault Clio being removed after it was driven into a crowd of shoppers in Berlin
Police load the vehicle onto the back of a marked lorry and transport it away fro the scene of the crime
Berlin’s Senator for the Interior, Iris Spranger, said: ‘I’m in the situation center and keep myself informed. My thoughts and my deepest sympathy are with all those affected’
Germany’s history of deadly car attacks
2006: During the football World Cup in Germany in 2006, a German man rammed his car into crowds gathered to watch a match at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, injuring some 20 people. The driver was later committed to a psychiatric hospital.
2016: Twelve died in a Christmas market attack after being rammed by a truck driven by Anis Amri, who had pledged allegiance to ISIS, while the 13th victim was the truck’s original driver – shot dead by Amri who then stole the vehicle.
2018: In April, a German man crashed his van into people seated outside a restaurant in the city of Muenster, killing five before shooting himself dead. Investigators later said he had mental health problems.
2019: Another German national 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.
2020: In February, a German man rammed his car through a carnival procession in the central town of Volkmarsen, injuring dozens of bystanders, including children. He was sentenced to life in jail last year.
2020: A 30-year-old Iraqi man rammed his car into other motorists on the on the Bundesautobahn 100 in Berlin injuring six people in August.
He had expressed support for Islamic extremist views, and was suspected of ‘in effect hunting down motorcyclists,’ officials said at the time. He was later moved to a psychiatric hospital, reports said.
2020: A German man ploughed his car through a pedestrian shopping street in December, in the southwestern city of Trier, killing four adults and a baby.
Around 130 police officers and 80 firefighters arrived at the scene after the incident.
A police spokesperson told Berlin newspaper, Tagesspiegel: ‘We don’t know whether this was a deliberate act or a traffic accident.’
Interior Senator Iris Spranger said: ‘We mourn the deceased and fear for the seriously injured in the terrible incident.
‘As a sign of sympathy and sympathy, I have ordered mourning flags to be displayed in Berlin tomorrow.’
Doctor Who actor John Barrowman, 55, was in the area at the time, and described hearing a ‘loud bang’ from inside a shop before running out to a scene of ‘carnage’ with a dead body lying in the road and police ‘everywhere’.
Posting on Twitter from the street, he said: ‘The car came down onto the pavement. Then has come onto the road over there, has hit somebody then has gone down the road and come back onto the pavement… and gone through a bunch of people and then right into a store front window.’
Speaking to Sky News, he added: ‘How horrible that this morning these people got up to just go through a regular day, they were going through their daily business. I mean we were shopping, but if you think if we’d have come out of that store one minute earlier…
‘We are no experts but this looks intentional,’ he added, speaking alongside husband Scott Gill.
Damien Seymour, 73, a British man who witnessed the aftermath of the incident while he was on holiday, told The Daily Telegraph: ‘We’re just in a hotel nearby and it’s shocking really.
‘It’s quite horrifying, you can’t believe it. They’ve got these ramps up sort of to defend the city in the areas for exactly what’s happened. And here we go. It’s happened again.’
Frank Vittchen, a witness at the scene, told AFP he was sitting at a fountain nearby when he ‘heard a big crash and then also saw a person fly through the air’.
The vehicle drove ‘at high speed onto the pavement and didn’t brake’, he said, with its windows shattering from the impact. ‘It all happened so fast,’ he said.
Another witness who declined to be named told AFP the people hit by the car included a group of 15-16-year-olds, and that two teachers were among those injured.
Police said: ‘A man is believed to have driven into a group of people. It is not yet known whether it was an accident or a deliberate act.’
The driver was briefly detained by passers-by before being handed over to police after the car smashed through a shop front, according to police spokesman Thilo Cablitz.
‘There are seriously injured people among the more than a dozen injured,’ said Cablitz.
Six were in a life-threatening condition, and another three were seriously hurt, the fire service said.
The German government is ‘very concerned and shocked’ by the ‘terrible incident in Berlin’, said a spokeswoman, adding that their thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones.
Berlin’s Senator for the Interior, Iris Spranger, said: ‘I’m in the situation center and keep myself informed. My thoughts and my deepest sympathy are with all those affected.’
A victim is stretchered into the back of am ambulance after a car drove into crowds in a shopping district in western Berlin
Medics help a wounded person into the back of an ambulance after they were hit by a car that mounted the pavement in Berlin
Rescue workers work at the site where one person was killed and a dozen injured when a car drove into a group of people in western Berlin on Wednesday morning
Rescue workers help an injured person after a car crashed into a crowd of people in western Berlin
A first-response helicopter is pictured at the site after a car crashed into a group of people in Berlin
Emeregency crews work at near site after a car crashed into a group of people before hitting a storefront in Berlin
Police officers work at the scene after a car drove into a crowd of people in western Berlin
Police officers stand at a cordoned-off area at the site where a car ploughed into a crowd in Berlin
A police tactical team secures the area, near a car that crashed into a group of people before hitting a storefront
Emergency workers gather next to Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin, opposite where the crash happened
People attend a memorial service at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, after a car crashed into a group of people, near Breitscheidplatz, in Berlin earlier today
Pictured: A memorial service at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church on Wednesday evening
The crash took place near the main shopping district’s Breitscheidplatz, the scene of Berlin’s 2016 Christmas market attack in which 13 people were killed.
Twelve died after being rammed by a truck driven by Anis Amri, who had pledged allegiance to ISIS, while the 13th victim was the truck’s original driver – shot dead by Amri who then stole the vehicle.
Meanwhile, the congregation of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church invited their community to hold a memorial service for the victim’s of the tragic attack on Wednesday evening.
Berlin’s Governing Mayor, the Deputy Governing Mayor Bettina Jarasch, Berlin’s Interior Senator Iris Spranger and Hesse’s Minister for Federal Affairs Lucia Puttrich also attended the church, reports Berliner Morgenpost.
Kathrin Oxen, pastor of the Memorial Church, said: “None of us want to be here.’
She referenced the terrorist attack at Breitscheitplatz six years ago and added: ‘We don’t want to mourn again in view of such a senseless act. Nevertheless, here we find refuge.
Germany has seen several such attacks since the deadly 2016 assault.
In December 2020, a German man ploughed his car through a pedestrian shopping street in the southwestern city of Trier, killing four adults and a baby.
Earlier the same year, a German man rammed his car through a carnival procession in the central town of Volkmarsen, injuring dozens of bystanders, including children. He was sentenced to life in jail last year.
In January 2019, another German national 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 crashed his van into people seated outside a restaurant in the city of Muenster, killing five before shooting himself dead. Investigators later said he had mental health problems.
During the football World Cup in Germany in 2006, a German man rammed his car into crowds gathered to watch a match at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, injuring some 20 people. The driver was later committed to a psychiatric hospital.
Police officers work at the scene after a car drove into a crowd of people in central Berlin, Germany
A police officer marks the crime scene at the accident site where a car ploughed into a crowd near Tauentzienstrasse in central Berlin
A view of the scene after a car drove into pedestrians in Berlin’s city center, Germany
Car ploughs into crowds in Berlin, leaving people dead and injured SourceCar ploughs into crowds in Berlin, leaving people dead and injured