Car Plows Into Pedestrians in Germany, Killing at Least 2

 nytimes.com  12/01/2020 14:09:29   Melissa Eddy and Christopher F. Schuetze

BERLIN  At least two people were killed and several others seriously wounded in the city of Trier in southwestern Germany on Tuesday, when a man drove an S.U.V. down a pedestrian street in the city center, before he was stopped and arrested, the police said.

The police said that the driver, a 51-year-old German man from the surrounding area, was stopped after driving roughly half a mile down the busy street and that his vehicle had been confiscated. Heavily armed officers sealed off the area to allow rescue workers to attend to the wounded and to enable the police to begin gathering evidence.

At this time, we cannot say anything about his motivation, Karl-Peter Jochem, a spokesman for the police in Trier, told reporters, adding that the man had resisted arrest. We do not know why he did this and there are no indications in any direction; we first have to question him, which at the moment is very difficult.

He said the police believe that the man acted on his own and that there was no further danger posed to the city after his arrest. Still, Mr. Jochem urged people to avoid the center of Trier.

Images from a grainy video taken by a bystander, the authenticity of which was confirmed by a police spokesman, Uwe Konz, showed a silver S.U.V. being rammed by an unmarked police car and three officers surrounding and restraining the driver.

Wolfram Leibe, the mayor of Trier, told reporters that the driver would be brought to justice. He broke down when describing the carnage in a city where people were out making the best of what is proving to be a trying pre-Christmas season during the coronavirus pandemic. He declined to give the numbers of the wounded, although he had previously spoken of at least 15 seriously hurt.

I just walked through the city center and it was simply horrifying, Mr. Leibe said. There was a sneaker standing there. The girl it belongs to is dead.

Trier, in the wine-growing region of the Mosel River valley, boasts several Roman ruins and prides itself as being the oldest city in Germany. Its main pedestrian area, which includes a Roman gate and a market square lined with medieval buildings, would normally host a bustling Christmas market.

Pictures from the scene on Tuesday showed dozens of ambulances and police cars parked on the cobbled streets of central Trier, decorated for the holiday season with green garlands. Christmas markets in Germany have been largely canceled as part of efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but stores are still open.

In December 2016, a 24-year-old Tunisian drove a truck into a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people before slipping the country to Milan, where he was killed in a shootout with Italian police several days later.

No one can expect to be killed while strolling through the city center, Mr. Leibe said of the incident on Tuesday. What motivates a person to do such a thing? Of course, I have no answer to that question.

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