Car plows through pedestrian street in German city Trier, at least 2 dead
By Loveday Morris and Luisa Beck,
Harald Tittel AP
BERLIN — A man plowed an SUV into a pedestrian street and through a central square in the southwestern German city of Trier on Tuesday, leaving at least two people dead and 10 injured. But police said the casualty count would rise.
Authorities said they arrested the driver, a 51-year-old German who lived in the area, and were investigating possible motives.
The car sped for more than a half mile through the picturesque medieval city center and past the city’s Christmas tree before being cornered by police.
Video posted online showed a man being pinned to the ground by police officers next to a silver gray vehicle along a bike lane. Another showed the mayhem it had inflicted: ambulances and paramedics on a shopping street strewn with debris.
Police spokesman Karl-Peter Jochem told Germany’s Bild television said that more than two people had been killed and those injured numbered more than 10, with an update to be given later Tuesday.
One witnesses quoted in the local media described a stroller flying in the air as the car flew through the market area.
Speaking to reporters after the incident, the city’s mayor, Wolfram Leibe, was overcome with emotion.
“We often see such images on TV, and think, ‘That can’t happen to us here,’” he said. “But now it’s happened in Trier.”
He called the scene “just terrible.”
“There was a sneaker, and the girl it belonged to is dead,” he said, fighting back tears and handing over the microphone to a colleague.
Some European cities have added bollards and concrete blocks in pedestrian areas in recent years after a spate of car-ramming attacks, including one in the French city of Nice on Bastille Day 2016 that killed 86 people and was claimed by Islamic State militants. Twelve people died in a truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market later that year.
“I don’t know the motivation of the perpetrator,” Leibe said, adding that he was “crossing my fingers” that all those injured survived.
Emergency services received calls at 1:48 p.m. that a car was careening through a pedestrian area, local officials said at an earlier news conference. Leibe said the police arrived on the scene after five minutes to be met with “wild chaos.”
Police cordoned off the city center and helicopters hovered overhead.
Authorities said the perpetrator was local, from the district of Trier-Saarburg.
“What in Trier happened is shocking,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert tweeted. “Our thoughts are with the relatives of the victims, with the numerous injured and with everyone who is currently on duty to care for those affected.”