A mangled pram stood in the wreckage of a German car rampage today after a baby girl and at least four others were killed when a Range Rover drove into pedestrians in what police say was a deliberate attack.
Witnesses described the pram being flung off the ground, and victims ‘flying into the air’, after the car drove more than half a mile through a shopping area in Trier which usually hosts a popular Christmas market.
A 51-year-old German man was arrested near the city’s Roman gate four minutes after the rampage began, and was being questioned tonight as police try to establish the motive for the attack.
Five people including the nine-month-old baby were killed in the incident, the interior minister of Rhineland-Palatinate state, Roger Lewentz confirmed, with three others seriously injured, five ‘substantially’ injured and six suffering from non-life threatening injuries.
Lewentz said two women aged 25 and 73 and a man, 45, all from Trier, were among those killed.
The suspect was named by Focus magazine as Bernd W, an unemployed electrician described as a ‘strange individual’ by neighbours who remembered him being ‘aggressive’ as a child and reported rumours that he had started living in his SUV since his mother died a few years ago.
The Range Rover was hoisted away for investigation tonight, hours after Trier mayor Wolfram Leibe, his voice breaking with emotion, said a young girl was among the dead in the attack.
Leibe described seeing one of the girl’s discarded shoes at the scene while another witness told the local Trierische Volksfreund paper that the dark grey vehicle had sent the pram flying off the ground.
While authorities have not described it as a terror act, and security sources said they had no evidence of a ‘political backdrop’ to the attack, the incident has brought back memories of the 2016 Christmas market rampage in Berlin in which 12 people were killed.
A wrecked child’s pram is seen on the pedestrian street in Trier today, after witnesses described seeing a buggy flung into the air and authorities confirmed that a young girl had died in the attack
The driver is pinned to the ground next to the Range Rover believed to have run over pedestrians in Trier today, killing at least four people in what police say was a deliberate attack
The Range Rover involved in the attack is hoisted away from the scene where it was stopped and its driver arrested today
Debris was strewn around near an ambulance while emergency workers responded to the deadly incident in Trier today
Rescue workers and onlookers stand near the scene in a pedestrian area which in a normal December would be full of people at the city’s popular Christmas market
Armed police in the cordoned-off pedestrian street as authorities investigated following the deadly rampage in Trier today
The car is thought to have driven around half a mile through a pedestrian area near the Porta Nigra, an old Roman gate
The car was stopped near the Porta Nigra, the old Roman gate, and the driver arrested at the scene – with footage showing him being pinned to the ground next to his damaged vehicle.
Police spokesman Karl-Peter Jochem said the driver had ‘indiscriminately’ run people down after turning into the pedestrian area.
The suspect, who lives locally, was being questioned in custody on Monday evening but authorities would not be drawn on a possible motive.
Germany has seen both Islamist and far-right attacks in recent years, and just today more than 180 officers were involved in a raid against a banned neo-Nazi group known for its racist and anti-Semitic ideology.
The report which named the suspect as Bernd W made no suggestion of any political ideology, but said he was unemployed and known to go drinking at a local kebab shop.
Police said there was no further danger to Trier residents after the driver’s arrest, suggesting that he had acted alone. He was arrested four minutes after the first emergency call, authorities said. .
The numbers of dead and injured were still becoming clear on Monday evening, but the death toll was already higher than the two that was first announced.
In addition to the injured people, there were many other ‘traumatised’ pedestrians who were in shock after witnessing what had happened, the mayor said.
One witness who watched the ‘rampage’ from a shop on the pedestrian street described seeing a children’s buggy being flung into the air, saying people had run indoors in panic.
‘We often see pictures like this on television and think that can’t happen here. Now it’s happened in Trier,’ the mayor told reporters near the Porta Nigra.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman called today’s news ‘shocking’ and said the government’s thoughts were with the injured people and relatives of victims.
Regional premier Malu Dreyer, who arrived at the scene on Tuesday evening, said she was deeply shaken by the events in the historic city which she described as her home town.
Police in forensic gear work in the city centre after darkness fell following the deliberate attack in Trier on Tuesday
Police look on as rescuers push an injured person into an ambulance at the scene where a car drove into pedestrians today
The silver Range Rover believed to have been used in today’s deliberate attack on pedestrians in Trier
The Range Rover is lifted onto a truck to be taken away by police officers after darkness fell in Trier on Tuesday evening
Emergency services at the scene of the crash in a pedestrian area which has been sealed off
At least two people were killed and several injured in Trier in south-western Germany today
After the driver’s arrest, officers warned people to avoid the scene, and said they were on the scene alongside ambulance crews while helicopters were also hovering over the city.
Footage showed police vans and other emergency vehicles parked on a wide shopping street in Trier, a large section of which appeared to have been cleared.
Shoppers were seen huddling outside stores festooned with Christmas decorations, while sirens could be heard in the distance. Emergency services from nearby Luxembourg were also said to be on the scene.
While Trier is usually home to one of Germany’s most popular Christmas markets, the event was cancelled this year because of the pandemic.
While bars and restaurants have closed under a so-called ‘lockdown light’ to bring down infections, shops and schools have remained open, unlike during the spring.
The incident brought back memories of the 2016 truck rampage at a Berlin Christmas market that left 12 people dead.
The driver on that occasion, a failed Tunisian asylum seeker, was a supporter of the Islamic State jihadist group.
In August 2019, six people were injured in a series of motorway accidents in Berlin in what prosecutors described as a suspected Islamist attack.
A square is blocked by police and fire engines following the incident in Trier on Tuesday
A crowd of emergency workers in the pedestrian street which in a normal December would be full of Christmas shoppers
An armed police officer speaks to a firefighter near the scene of Tuesday’s attack which lasted around four minutes
People look at debris outside a shopfront in the pedestrian area in Trier where at least two people were killed on Tuesday
Emergency services at the scene following what police said was a deliberate attack on Tuesday afternoon
A square is blocked by the police in Trier, where authorities are securing evidence and dealing with injured and traumatised people