German man, 73, dies after car driven into pedestrians in Heidelberg

The Guardian

A 73-year-old man died and two others were injured after a man drove a car into pedestrians in a square in the centre of Heidelberg.

The attacker, who was armed with a knife, fled before being surrounded by police near a swimming pool in the south-western German town.

After a stand-off, the man was shot once by an officer, according to video of the incident posted on social media, then taken to hospital.

On Saturday night, Mannheim police said the man suspected of carrying out the attack was a 35-year-old German, and that they did not suspect any terrorist motive.

Witnesses told the Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung newspaper that the black Opel car had been waiting at a red light near Bismarckplatz, a busy area in the centre of Heidelberg.

After the lights turned green, the car was driven directly at a crowd in a pedestrianised zone near a busy tram and bus stop, outside a Grimminger bakery. The car hit three people then struck a pillar, but was not going fast enough to trip the airbag.

The driver got out and ran away from the tram station carrying a knife, but was spotted by bystanders who alerted the police. Officers trapped the man near the entrance to a swimming pool and ordered him to drop the knife, but, according to local media, he refused and was shot.

Mannheim police said in a statement last night: “Shortly before 4pm, a suspect drove into a group of people in Bismarckplatz in Heidelberg in front of a local bakery branch.

“This injured three people, one of them seriously. Afterwards, the suspect climbed out of the vehicle and moved away on foot, armed with a knife, towards Bergheimer Straße.

“In front of the local indoor swimming pool, he was identified by a police patrol on the advice of passersby. During the arrest, the police officers used firearms.”

Later, police said: “The person who was initially seriously injured died at 6pm in a Heidelberg clinic. He was a 73-year-old German national.”

The police said the two other injured people were a 32-year-old Austrian man and a 29-year-old woman from Bosnia-Herzegovina. They received treatment at the scene and were discharged.

“The suspect is a 35-year-old German,” the police said, who was receiving treatment for his gunshot wounds.

“According to the current investigation, there are no indications of a terrorist background.”

After persistent speculation that the German suspect was a naturalised immigrant, Mannheim police tweeted: “And now for everyone – a German WITHOUT a migration background”

Officers wearing forensic bodysuits examined the car, discoveringa bag and a suitcase.

Germany has been on high alert since a truck ploughed into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin in December, killing 12 people. A Tunisian suspect was shot dead days later by police in Italy.