Car crashes into pedestrians in Germany: at least one dead, 12 injured

An unexplained gesture by a 29-year-old driver who encountered pedestrians on Wednesday in a central artery in Berlin killed a teacher and injured several students who were on a school trip to the capital.

The car, a gray metallic Renault Clio, crashed into a perfume shop window at around 10:30 a.m., after hitting a group of pedestrians, not far from where a deadly truck attack occurred in 2016.

The crowd was large at this time of day in this commercial and tourist district located near the zoo west of the capital. The outcome is heavy: a teacher was killed, and the emergency services counted “more than ten wounded”, six of them “between life and death” and three “serious injuries”.

France Press agency

Among the injured are teenagers from the land of Hesse (west) who were on a school trip to Berlin, according to the authorities of this region. In addition to the deceased teacher, another teacher was seriously injured.

Police arrested the driver, a 29-year-old German of Armenian origin, but say they do not know at this point whether he acted on purpose or not.

“We don’t have concrete evidence of political action yet,” Berlin Police Chief Barbara Sloek said at the end of the day.

News that a letter of claim was discovered in the car was denied. Graffiti containing notes “about Turkey” was discovered in the car, according to a representative of the Berlin administration, Iris Spranger.

“The investigation is ongoing and it is too early to speculate on the motive” of the action, said an Interior Ministry spokesman.

Police said the driver hit pedestrians “before he could continue his race” for 150 to 200 yards and then finished the race in a window.

“I was sitting near the fountain and I heard a loud noise and then I saw someone flying through the air,” one of the witnesses, Frank Fitchen, told AFP.

France Press agency

He added that the driver “left at high speed on the pavement but did not apply the brakes” and then “returned to the road and ran away.”

Another witness, who declined to be identified, described to AFP how he encountered a “group of students” aged “15 to 16” before running at a red light and continuing his race “at excessive speed”.

Bystanders overpowered the driver before arresting him. He was taken to the hospital.

AFP journalists noted that a Renault Clio registered in Berlin was visible at the scene, strapped to the shop window with the passenger door open.

France Press agency

The facts raised eyebrows, with Berlin’s Social Democratic mayor, Franziska Jaffe, saying she was “very upset”, as was the German government.

Stay near the Memorial Church, a prominent monument in the western part of the German capital, located in one of the busiest shopping streets in Berlin, Kurfürstendamm.

There also on December 19, 2016, an Islamist attack with a ram’s truck killed 12 people at a Christmas market held at the foot of the church.

Drivers with mental disorders have carried out several car-ramming attacks in Germany in recent years.

One of the most serious was committed in April 2018 in Münster (Northwest). A pickup truck man broke into a group of people gathered outside a restaurant, killing five of them, before shooting himself.

In December 2020, a 51-year-old drunk driver suffering from psychosis killed five people, including a child, and seriously injured 14 others when he drove into a pedestrian zone in Trier (west), just before Christmas.

In Volksmarsen, a municipality in the region of Hesse (West), also in 2020, a 30-year-old German injured about 100 people by crashing into the crowd during a carnival parade.

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