Driver hits school group in Berlin; teacher killed, 9 people injured

WARNINGThis story contains graphic images of death.

A man drove a car into a German school group in a popular Berlin shopping area on Wednesday, killing a teacher and seriously injuring nine people before being quickly arrested, authorities said.

The man ran into people on a street corner around 10:30 a.m. local time, put the car back on the road and then crashed into a shop window about a block away, police said. The driver was apparently stopped by passers-by and then arrested by a police officer near the scene.

Berlin’s top security official, Iris Spranger, said the murdered woman was a teacher on a school trip to the German capital with high school students from the central German state of Hesse.

Authorities spent hours trying to determine whether it was a deliberate attack or an accident. On Wednesday evening, Spranger took to Twitter that authorities now believe it was the first, describing it as an “act run amok by a mentally retarded person”.

Six people were injured in life-threatening situations and another three were seriously injured, said fire spokesman Adrian Wentzel. Police said 14 students from Hesse were among those who suffered injuries of varying severity, but did not give a total number.

American-British actor John Barrowman, who was at a nearby store at the time of the crash, described the scene as “carnage.”

IN PHOTOS | Scenes of the crash:

Driver arrested, taken to hospital

According to police, the driver was a 29-year-old German-Armenian man living in Berlin.

Spranger said posters were found in the man’s car that “expressed opinions about Turkey”. She said there was “no claim of responsibility”.

Spranger told regional public broadcaster RBB that German domestic intelligence had no direct information about the man and said authorities were still checking whether he had been previously known to police. He has been taken to a hospital.

Berlin mayor Franziska Giffey said she was “deeply shocked” by the incident, which she said brought back “terrible memories” of a truck attack more than five years ago on the nearby Breitscheidplatz square. An Islamic extremist drove into a Christmas market in 2016, killing 13.

In a 2019 incident in central Berlin, an SUV rammed into a group of pedestrians, killing four people. The driver had had a seizure and ended up on the sidewalk.

A memorial service was held on Wednesday evening for the dead or injured in the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church on Breitscheidplatz, next to the accident site.

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