August 2, 2021

Police specify details about the victims

A man apparently attacks people indiscriminately with a knife. Three of them did not survive the attack in Würzburg. What is known about the deed and what is not.

After the fatal knife attack on Friday, Würzburg is in shock. The three fatalities are to be remembered on Sunday, but the police are investigating the background. What is known about the crime so far and what is not.

What is known about the course of events

Friday afternoon, around 5 p.m .: The suspect enters a Woolworth branch in downtown Würzburg and gets a knife there. Apparently for no reason he stabs women and three die. Then the Somali runs into a nearby bank and attacks passers-by there and on the street – again mainly women.

A police task force secured the crime scene in Würzburg on Friday. (Source: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand / dpa)

Courageous citizens stood in the way of the attacker in the city center. Clips posted on the Internet showed several people trying to overpower the attacker. A man attacked the 24-year-old with a broom, others were seen with chairs in hand. Read more about this here. A man held the perpetrator in check with a backpack. As the “FAZ” reports, it is a 42-year-old Kurdish man from Iran. He has only been in Germany for 17 months and has applied for asylum, he told the newspaper. He said he wasn’t afraid for his life during the action and was like being in the tunnel at the moment.

Passers-by quickly brought the approaching police to the perpetrator. The officers eventually stopped the man with a shot in the thigh.

What is known about the victims

All of the fatalities and most of the injured are women, according to the police. Three died in the attack. According to the police, they were all customers in the store and were 24, 49 and 82 years old. Previous information that one of the women worked in the shop as a saleswoman does not apply, said a police spokesman.

Seven other people were injured. The perpetrator attacked two of them in the shop. These are a 57-year-old man and a 52-year-old woman. She was seriously injured, but her life is not in danger, the man sustained minor injuries. On the street in front of the department store, police officers found an 11-year-old girl and a 16-year-old teenager – both with serious injuries. There is no longer any mortal danger for either of them. The perpetrator also slightly injured a 26-year-old woman – she was also found on the street.

Knife attack in downtown Würzburg: Two young men light a candle in front of a closed and locked shop in the city center.  (Source: dpa / Karl-Josef Hildenbrand)Knife attack in downtown Würzburg: Two young men light a candle in front of a closed and locked shop in the city center. (Source: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand / dpa)

The man is said to have attacked another woman in a nearby bank. The 73-year-old was taken to hospital with serious injuries, but according to the police, her life is now out of danger. The condition of a 39-year-old, whom the Somali also attacked, is stable. She is no longer in a life-threatening condition, said the spokesman. It was initially unknown where the man attacked this woman. The bloody balance of the knife attack: three dead women, three critically injured women, a girl and a teenager in mortal danger, a slightly injured man and a slightly injured woman, according to the police.

What is known about the alleged perpetrator

The 24-year-old suspect is said to have been born in 1997 in the Somali capital Mogadishu. He came to Germany in May 2015 and was initially registered with the Federal Office for Migration in Chemnitz. After moving several times within Germany, he came to Würzburg in 2019. In Germany he had subsidiary protection. This means that the person does not have the right to asylum but is at risk of serious damage in the country of origin. He is therefore legally residing in Germany.

According to the police, the 24-year-old last lived in a homeless shelter. The suspect had already attracted psychological attention in the past few months. In January there was a dispute in the homeless shelter, according to police. The man is said to have threatened his roommate with a knife. The 24-year-old was then admitted to a psychiatric facility.

Only a few days ago he was re-admitted to a mental health facility after harassing people in the city center. “Since the accused has shown a disturbed behavior with psychological abnormalities,” said Wolfgang Gründler from the public prosecutor in Bamberg on Sunday.

What is known about the subject

It is still unclear whether the man was psychologically confused during the crime or whether it was an Islamistically motivated crime. Bavaria’s Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann (CSU) said on Saturday that a lone perpetrator was assumed. Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) previously spoke of a rampage.

Bavaria's Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann informs about the act: It could have been an Islamist-motivated attack.  (Source: dpa / Daniel Karmann)Bavaria’s Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann informed about the act: It could be an Islamist-motivated attack. (Source: Daniel Karmann / dpa)

Herrmann did not rule out an Islamist attack: “In any case, there are indications that it could be an Islamist attack,” he said. According to him, a witness stated that the suspect had shouted “Allahu Akbar” (German: God is great) during the crime.

As t-online learned from investigators, the suspect said after the fact that he had carried out his “jihad”. The alleged perpetrator made statements that suggest religious fanaticism. According to “Bild”, investigators also found propaganda material from the terrorist group “Islamic State” in the homeless shelter where the suspect last lived. According to reports, however, there are no indications of any contact with militant Salafists. After talks with the 24-year-old, he has not yet recognized any Islamist motives, said the attacker’s lawyer. The alleged perpetrator has not yet made an official statement.

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.