German prosecutors accused a man who allegedly drove his car into a crowd of people in a busy shopping street in Berlin with murder, a spokesman said on Thursday. 

A teacher was killed and 31 others, including students, were injured in the tragic incident in Berlin’s Charlottenburg neighborhood on Wednesday. The suspected driver is in police custody.

Sebastian Büchner, a spokesperson for the public prosecutor’s office, said the suspect has been officially accused of murder and attempted murder — but it is unclear whether he could be held criminally responsible.

Suspect suffers from mental illness

Büchner said the suspect “deliberately drove a vehicle” into a group of people near the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church before hitting a group of students and teachers one block away. 

Iris Spranger, Berlin’s interior affairs minister, said the alleged perpetrator had previously been under police investigation on multiple occasions for crimes such as bodily harm and trespassing, noting that none of them were politically motivated.

A police statement said investigations have so far pointed to a “deliberate act of a psychologically ill man.”

Berlin Mayor Franziska Giffey told RBB inforadio that investigators were trying to make sense of “at times confused statements” that the 29-year-old suspect made to police.

Prosecutors are seeking to place the German-Armenian in psychiatric care as he appears to be suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, Büchner said. 

School and families in mourning

The teacher killed in Wednesday’s incident had been on an end-of-term trip with students to Berlin from a small town in central Germany. 

Families were morning her death on Thursday in the town of Bad Arolsen in the state of Hesse

Another teacher, who was also with the group, has been critically injured and is currently fighting for his life, officials said. 

The regional government in Hesse said that the students who were hit were in 10th grade, meaning they were between the ages of 15 and 17.

Berlin Mayor Giffey spoke of a “dark day” for Berlin that brought back “bad memories.”

Wednesday’s incident took place near the site of a deadly rampage in 2016 that killed 11 people in a Christmas market in what was later declared a terrorist attack.

Germany has also seen several over car rammings since the 2016 terror attack — including one that took place near Bad Arolsen in 2020.

In the February 2020 incident in the town of Volkmarsen, a man rammed his car into a carnival parade in 2020, injuring dozens of people, including children.

fb/rs (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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