On Wednesday, June 8th, at 10:26 a.m., a car rampaged through Berlin’s Kurfürstendamm, where at least one person died, several passers-by were critically injured, and countless people were wounded. The German-Armenian Gor H. drove his sister’s Renault Clio off the street onto the sidewalk and into a crowd of people, but then drove back onto the street to drive onto the sidewalk again 200 meters later at the next crossroads. There, the attack finally ended in a shop window of a Douglas store perfumery. The perpetrator tried to flee the scene, but passers-by held him until the police arrived and arrested him.
The 29-year-old driver has a track record of property crimes and resides in Berlin. On a cell phone video taken by a bystander during the arrest, the driver appeared to be confused. According to police, there were initially no clues as to whether it was a deliberate attack, but over the course of the afternoon BILD claimed a letter of confession was found in the crashed car. “Definitely not an accident—a spree killer, a stone-cold killer,” BILD quoted an investigator as saying. Although this claim was denied by a police spokeswoman, the police later admitted that it was a spree killing, and not an accident. Police ruled out the event as a terrorist attack.
The deliberate nature of the vehicular crime coincides with eyewitness accounts, who reported that the driver drove at very high speeds onto the sidewalk and, according to impressions, drove purposefully into groups of people. There were no signs of attempts to slow down. When Gor H. steered onto the sidewalk the second time, he struck another car and crashed into the shop window of the Douglas store.
The police did not want to comment on the motive of the perpetrator, but witnesses claimed to have seen anti-Turkish posters in the vehicle. Berlin’s Social Democratic Interior Minister Iris Spranger (SPD) confirmed that posters with statements “about Turkey” had been found, but at the same time stressed: “there is no real letter of confession.”
According to police, during the day it was not possible to estimate how many people were injured in the rampage, but there was at least one fatality. A 51-year-old teacher who was traveling with her school class from northern Hesse died at the scene. Another teacher, as well as a student, are seriously injured. Of the school class, a total of 12 out of 24 students were injured. Others hurt were a pregnant woman, who suffered a fractured hip, 6 people who sustained life-threatening injuries, and 3 more who are in serious condition.
The press secretary of the federal government, Christiane Hoffmann, announced that the government was “very concerned and shocked.” A spokesman for Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) released a statement that “above all, our hope is that the seriously injured and injured recover.” Berlin Mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) said “this is a situation, where one thinks: for God’s sake, not again!” She stressed that she was “deeply saddened by this terrible event” and insisted on “clarifying how it happened and what happened.”
The rampage triggered memories of 2016, when the Islamist attacker Anis Amri drove a truck into the Christmas market at the Gedächtniskirche only a few meters away on Breitscheidplatz. At the time, 12 people died and more than 70 were injured. Due to the increase in Islamist attacks in recent years, many reporters immediately raised the question of the origin of the perpetrator of the current vehicular crime as well, but police spokesman Thilo Cablitz questioned the relevance of this information.
David Boos is an organist, documentary filmmaker, and writer for The European Conservative and other publications.