4 dead after driver runs down pedestrians in Germany

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

51-year-old man arrested; 9-month-old infant among the dead

Four people were killed Tuesday after a car hit several pedestrians in the German city of Trier, police said.

The incident does not appear to be politically motivated, however, the interrogation of the chief suspect is ongoing, authorities say, with no idea as to what led the driver to randomly target people in the city center.

Among those killed was a 9-month-old, police said.

Fifteen people were injured, four of them seriously, said Roger Lewentz, the state interior minister.

He added that he believed the driver had intentionally targeted pedestrians, driving in “zigzag lines” to do the most damage.

The driver has been detained and a vehicle seized, police in the southwestern city said. Investigators say the suspect was sitting alone in the vehicle during the incident and was not previously known to police.

The suspect is a 51-year-old German man and a local resident, according to a police tweet.

He apparently drove into people at random in a pedestrianized area near the Porta Nigra, the city’s landmark Roman city gate.

Public prosecutors Peter Fritzen said that the man was drunk at the time of the crime. Police said the man had been living out of his vehicle during the past several days.

Witnesses at the scene told dpa that people had been hurled into the air by the SUV.

“Caring for the injured is of utmost priority,” police wrote on Twitter, while appealing to the public to avoid the city center.

The incident sparked a major response by emergency services. Large parts of central Trier were blocked off, but police later said that there was no longer any threat to the public.

Trier Mayor Wolfram Leibe spoke of a “rampage driver in the city center” in an interview with the SWR public broadcaster, adding that up to 15 people were injured.

“What happened in Trier is shocking,” Steffen Seibert, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesperson, wrote on Twitter.

“Thoughts are with the families of the dead, with the numerous injured people and with all of those who were deployed in this moment to care for those affected,” he added.