The driver, identified as a 51-year-old German born in Trier, was arrested at the scene and the vehicle was seized, Trier police said. The suspect, whose name was withheld under German privacy laws, did not have a fixed address and recently lived in the Land Rover that was used in the attack and which he received. had been on loan from a friend, prosecutor Peter Fritzen said.
The man was being questioned by police and required to undergo a psychiatric examination, said Fritzen, who was leading the investigation. He said a doctor had recently come to the preliminary conclusion that the man may be suffering from mental illness.
“We have no indication that there was any kind of terrorist, political or religious motive that could have played a role,” Fritzen told reporters.
The suspect had also consumed a “significant” amount of alcohol prior to the incident and was well above the legal limit, he said.
Some victims in a potentially fatal condition
Mayor Wolfram Leibe, who was brought to tears during the day speaking about the gruesome scene, said it was difficult to understand what had happened.
“I can’t understand how anyone has the idea of driving through downtown in an SUV to kill people,” he said. “Kill people – a nine month old baby, for a 72 year old woman; what did these people do? They just wanted to go to town, shop, and now they’re dead. ”
Four people were still in a life-threatening condition in hospital and five others sustained serious injuries, while six others had less serious injuries, Home Secretary Roger Lewentz said. Police later said one of the injured died, but provided no further details.
The others killed were identified as a 25-year-old woman and a 45-year-old man from Trier; the baby’s mother was among those hospitalized. Police said the oldest victim was 73.
“This incident rocked all of Germany,” Lewentz said.
The attack was reported to police shortly before 2 p.m.
Lewentz praised security forces for their reaction, saying they had located the car, which had pulled over to the side of the street, and taken the suspect into custody within four minutes of receiving the first call .
The driver, who was alone in the car, resisted arrest but was overpowered by police, authorities said.
Politicians express shock and condolences
In a video posted by local media allegedly showing the arrest, police were seen to pin a man on the sidewalk next to a car with Trier license plates.
The authenticity of the video could not be immediately verified, and it was removed shortly after police tweeted a request for people not to share photos and videos of the scene.
Footage from the scene showed people outside a store apparently helping someone on the ground among the scattered debris.
The governor of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, Malu Dreyer, who comes from Trier, condemned what had happened as a “brutal act”.
“It was a really, really terrible day for my hometown,” Dreyer told reporters after touring the scene.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesperson Steffen Seibert tweeted that the incident was “shocking”.
“Our hearts go out to the loved ones of those killed and the many injured, and to all those currently on duty who care for them,” he said.
Trier is about 200 kilometers west of Frankfurt, near the border with Luxembourg.
The city of about 110,000 inhabitants is known for its Roman gate, the Porta Nigra, which is near the scene of the incident, and as the birthplace of Karl Marx.