German van driver had history with police

Published on Sunday, 8 April 2018 20:51
Written by The Associated Press

MUENSTER, Germany (AP) - The 48-year-old German man who drove a van into a crowd in Muenster was well-known to police, had a history of run-ins with the law and had expressed suicidal thoughts to a neighbor last month, German prosecutors said Sunday.

The man, whose name was not released, killed two people and injured 20 others Saturday afternoon by crashing into those drinking outside a popular bar in the western German city’s Old Town. He then shot himself to death inside the van.

The impact of the crash was so violent that the van did not stop until it hit the pub’s stone wall.

Police said Sunday that they believed he acted alone, but did not explain why they thought that.

The picture painted by police showed the suspect as a Muenster resident who was apparently financially well off but was frequently at odds with authorities and in court often. Local media reported that he is an industrial designer who once threatened his father with an ax.

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.

Prosecutors said he had expressed suicidal plans by email to a neighbor. Police were told about the email and went to the man’s Muenster home but he was not there. They then told local authorities at the man’s other homes in Dresden and Pirna in eastern Germany about the note, but he could not be found there either.

In a joint statement Sunday, police and prosecutors said the suspect didn’t mention any intention to harm other people in his email. The city’s health services had also been in touch with the man, but authorities didn’t say why. Germany has very strict privacy laws on medical issues.

Authorities still appeared stumped about the man’s motive for the attack.

“We have no indications that there is a political background or that others were involved” in Saturday’s deadly crash, prosecutor Elke Adomeit told reporters. “But he was well known to the police.”

Posted in New Britain Herald, Nation-World on Sunday, 8 April 2018 20:51. Updated: Sunday, 8 April 2018 20:54.