Driver in Deadly German Van Attack Was Known to Police

Prosecutors said Sunday they still do not know why a 48-year-old German national drove a van into a crowd of people in the western city of Muenster, killing two and injuring 20 more.

The man, whose name was not released, then shot himself in the van. Officials said six of those injured were in critical condition.

Police also said Sunday that they believe he acted alone. They said the driver was well-known to police, had a history of run-ins with the law and had expressed suicidal thoughts to a neighbor last month.

Muenster Police President Hajo Kuhlisch said the man’s four apartments, two in Muenster and two in Saxony, and several cars had been searched thoroughly.

 

Inside the van, police found illegal firecrackers that were disguised as a fake bomb, a fake pistol and the real gun that the driver used to kill himself.

 

Inside the apartment, where the man was living, they found more firecrackers and a “no-longer usable AK-47 machine gun” and several gas bottles and canisters containing gasoline and bio-ethanol, but did not know yet why they were stored there.

Authorities identified the victims as a 51-year-old woman from northern Germany and a 65-year-old man from Broken, near Muenster.  

Merkel ‘deeply shocked’

Muenster Mayor Markus Lewe told reporters Saturday that “all of Muenster mourns over this horrible thing,” expressing compassion for the families of those killed and wishes for a swift recovery for those injured.

A spokeswoman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel called reports of the event “terrible news.” Merkel released a statement saying she is “deeply shocked by the terrible events in Muenster.”

A White House statement released late Saturday said U.S. President Donald Trump had been briefed on the incident.

“While the German authorities have not yet announced a motive for this cowardly attack on innocent people, we condemn it regardless, and pledge any support from the United States Government that Germany may need,” the statement said.

Germany has been on high alert for terror attacks since a truck crashed into a Christmas market in Berlin two years ago, killing 12 people.

Saturday was also the one-year anniversary of an April 7 attack in Stockholm, Sweden, where a truck crashed into a crowd of people in front of a department store. Five people died in that attack. The attacker claimed to be a member of the Islamic State terror group.

 

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