Attack with three dead
Islamist attack, act of a mentally ill person? Location search in Würzburg
A department store, a bank, on the street: in the middle of Würzburg, a man stabs someone he does not know. The investigators have a lot of work to do. Was it an Islamist attack? Or was mental illness responsible for the attacker’s actions?
The day after the fatal knife attack in Würzburg, the investigators have not yet finally found a motif. It is unclear to what extent the psyche of the 24-year-old Somali played a role and to what extent Islamist attitudes contributed to the act, said Bavaria’s Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann (CSU) on Saturday in Würzburg. The officials also assumed that it was a lone perpetrator. The Somali was shot and arrested by police following the crime that took place in a department store, bank and street.
The Bavarian State Criminal Police Office, in cooperation with the Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office, took over the investigations into the background from the local authorities. The handover to the higher authorities took place because it was an “amoklage”, said Würzburg’s chief public prosecutor Frank Gosselke.
Hate messages discovered in accommodation
In the attack on Friday afternoon in the city center, the man had killed three women in a department store. He then seriously injured six other women and one young man slightly on the street and in a bank. One woman was still in mortal danger on Saturday. According to the police, the Somali had stabbed the unknown people for no reason.
The victims are almost exclusively women. According to the police, it is not yet known whether the suspect deliberately selected women. According to the current state of investigation, it could also be a coincidence.
Investigators found messages of hate in the homeless shelter where the alleged attacker last lived. That said the chief criminal director Armin Kühnert. The material has been secured but not yet evaluated. Messages on a discovered cell phone still have to be investigated, which takes some time because of the foreign language used.
Known to the police and psychologically conspicuous
The 24-year-old was known to the police before the act. He is said to have picked up a knife in a dispute in a homeless shelter in January and held it threateningly in his hand, said Wolfgang Gründler from the Bamberg Public Prosecutor’s Office. He did not say what the argument with roommates and administrators was about. Nobody was injured.
However, the police initiated an investigation into threats and insults, and the Somali was initially taken to a psychiatric ward temporarily. The process continues, a psychiatric report is still pending.
In June, the 24-year-old is said to have harassed a road user in downtown Würzburg. “The accused showed disturbed behavior with psychological abnormalities,” said Gründler. The man had come to a psychiatric hospital again, but was discharged after a day because he did not need treatment.
Interior Minister Seehofer “deeply shaken”
The man from Somalia, a country of civil war, entered Germany on May 6, 2015, said Lower Franconia’s police chief Gerhard Kallert. The asylum seeker had been registered in Würzburg since September 4, 2019 and later received subsidiary protection – so he is legally residing in Germany.
On the instructions of the Würzburg District Court, the suspect is now in custody – for triple murder, attempted murder and dangerous bodily harm in six other cases and willful bodily harm in another case.
The Somali public defender Hanjo Schrepfer said his client had been classified as liable despite a leg injury. After talking to the 24-year-old, he has not yet recognized any Islamist motives. “Officially, he has not yet got involved,” said Schrepfer.
Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) described the bloody act as a rampage. Security circles said on Saturday that the young man had made a statement during his interrogation that suggested religious fanaticism. According to reports, however, there are no indications of any contact with militant Salafists. “I am deeply shocked by this incredibly brutal act,” said Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU).
Horror and sadness in Würzburg
Söder announced mourning flags for Bavaria. “The events are incredible and shocking,” he said in Nuremberg. Bavaria mourns the victims. “We fear, pray and hope with the injured and their families.” Söder especially thanked the citizens who had tried on Friday to catch the perpetrator and keep him in check: “That was a very impressive commitment.”
Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he was “shocked” by the events. “The perpetrator acted with extreme brutality. For this inhuman act he is held accountable by the rule of law.” In addition, representatives of various parties expressed their condolences, especially on Twitter.
The following day there was horror in the university town of Würzburg. People set up burning candles near the crime scene in memory of the victims. The courageous citizens who stood in the way of the attacker also came into focus. Thanks came, among other things, from many politicians who had obviously seen the short video clips on social networks in which passers-by attacked the Somali.
The act is reminiscent of an Islamist attack almost five years ago in Würzburg. On July 18, 2016, four people were seriously injured on a train. A 17-year-old Afghan refugee attacked the travelers with an ax and a knife on a regional train on the way to Würzburg. He then fled on foot, attacked a strolling woman and was finally shot by the police.