Muenster killer had mental problems

A woman lays candles at a makeshift memorial at the square where a man driving a van ploughed into an open-air restaurant in Muenster, western Germany, on Saturday, killing two people.
A woman lays candles at a makeshift memorial at the square where a man driving a van ploughed into an open-air restaurant in Muenster, western Germany, on Saturday, killing two people.
Image: AFP Photo/ John Macdougall

The man who drove a camper van into a group of people sitting outside a restaurant in the German city of Muenster on Saturday acted alone and appears to have had mental health problems, the regional interior minister said yesterday.

The man killed two people when he ploughed the vehicle into patrons seated at tables outside the Grosser Kiepenkerl eatery, a popular destination for tourists in the old town of the university city in western Germany.

He then shot himself dead.

“We now know it was in all likelihood a lone perpetrator, a German,” North Rhine-Westphalia Interior Minister Herbert Reul said.

“There are lots of indications the person in focus had [psychological] abnormalities.

“This must be carefully investigated,” he said after paying his respects to the victims with national Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and state premier Armin Laschet.

There was no evidence of any link to Islamist militancy and the suspect was not a refugee, Reul said.

Broadcaster ZDF said police were searching his apartment and that he had contact with far-right extremists, but there was no evidence so far that he was an extremist himself.

In Berlin in December 2016, a Tunisian whose request for asylum was turned down and who had links to Islamist militants hijacked a truck and ploughed into a crowded marketplace.

Twelve people, including the man driving the truck when it was hijacked, were killed.

Police said yesterday they were still investigating possible motives and forensic investigators were scouring the scene of the attack for clues.

Seehofer described the attack as a cowardly and brutal crime.

He, Laschet and Reul laid flowers in central Muenster and paid their respects to the victims of the attack.

“We have again experienced that absolute security is unfortunately not possible,” Seehofer said, adding that the government would do everything possible to protect citizens.

Police said the perpetrator was 48. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported online that he was Jens R, who lived 2km from the crime scene.

A 51-year-old woman from the Lueneburg area in northern Germany and a 65-yearold man from the Borken area near Muenster were killed.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was deeply shaken.

In the months before the Berlin assault, Germany suffered a number of small Islamist militant attacks.

X