By GEIR MOULSON and FRANK JORDANS
BERLIN (AP) — A man drove a car into a German school group standing in a popular Berlin shopping district Wednesday, killing a teacher and seriously injuring nine people, authorities said.
The man drove into people on a street corner at around 10:30 a.m., got the car back on the road and then crashed into a shop window about a block away, Berlin police spokesman Thilo Cablitz said.
Berlin’s top security official, Iris Spranger, said the woman killed was a teacher on a trip to the German capital with students from a secondary school in the central German state of Hesse.
Six people sustained life-threatening injuries and another three were seriously injured, fire service spokesman Adrian Wentzel. Police said 14 students from Hesse were among those who sustained injuries of varying severity, but didn’t give a total tally.
American-British actor John Barrowman, who was in a nearby store at the time of the crash, described the scene as “carnage.”
The driver was apparently detained by passers-by and then arrested swiftly by a police officer near the scene, Cablitz said. Investigators were working to determine whether the man deliberately drove into the pedestrians or whether it was an accident, possibly caused by a medical emergency.
Police said the driver was a 29-year-old German-Armenian who lived in Berlin.
Spranger said posters were found in the man’s car “in which he expressed views about Turkey.”
In a later interview with regional public broadcaster RBB, Spranger said Germany’s domestic intelligence agency had no immediate information on the man and authorities were still checking whether he was previously known to police. She said the driver was in a hospital, “because we must of course immediately clarify whether he is ill, whether he took drugs and so on.”
“We can’t rule anything out at the moment … but there is no claim of responsibility,” Spranger said.
Berlin Mayor Franziska Giffey said she was “deeply shocked” by the incident but cautioned against drawing premature conclusions.
“Before speculating, I think it’s important at this stage to really let the police and fire service conduct their investigation,” the mayor said. “We want the greatest possible transparency, but we also want reliable information.”
Giffey said the crash brought back “terrible memories” of a truck attack more than five years ago at the nearby Breitscheidplatz square. An Islamic extremist drove into a Christmas market in 2016, resulting in 13 deaths.
In a 2019 incident in central Berlin, an SUV plowed into a group of pedestrians, killing four people. The driver had suffered an epileptic seizure and veered onto the sidewalk.
A memorial service for the people killed or hurt in Wednesday’s crash was held in the evening at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church on the Breitscheidplatz, next to the scene of the crash.
Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report.
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