Dramatic hours in the middle of the Dresden Advent hustle and bustle: an armed man terrified the Saxon capital for hours with a hostage-taking in a shopping center, a homicide and an attack on a radio station. When accessed by special police forces, the 40-year-old German was overwhelmed on Saturday afternoon in the Altmark-Galerie shopping center. He died shortly afterwards from the injuries sustained. Police believe he was mentally ill. The man is said to have killed his 62-year-old mother in the morning. The hostages and the employees of the radio station remained - at least externally - unharmed.
The crime poses numerous mysteries for the criminalists. The investigations are now being conducted by the public prosecutor's office, as the police and public prosecutor's office announced on Sunday. Among other things, it must be clarified whether the perpetrator was allowed to legally own his weapon or how he got hold of it. "Further information is currently not possible. The processing of the operation and the investigations will take some time," it said. What drove the 40-year-old to commit the crimes is so far completely uncertain.
Three crime scenes
The police initially assumed it was a killing spree because they received information about three crime scenes. In the morning, the man is said to have killed his mother in the Prohlis district of Dresden. Police became aware of the crime around 7:20 a.m. The perpetrator then tried to break into the Radio Dresden station in the city center by force of arms and fired shots. When he did this, he had a friend's nine-year-old child with him. How it came about - that too was initially unclear.
He later holed up with the child and a 38-year-old employee in an office in the Altmarkt-Galerie shopping center. At that time, the shops were not yet open, but visitors could already stroll inside the gallery. The building was immediately evacuated and cordoned off. The adjacent Striezelmarkt also remained closed for the time being.
According to the police, the hostage-taker dialed the emergency number from the office. Officials were able to stay in constant contact with him, it said. The Dresden police department then requested special forces from the Saxony State Criminal Police Office. "In the further course, the emergency services heard gunshots from the office and there was a prepared emergency access. The officials had to open a door by force," it said. Firearms were used. The 40-year-old had a sharp pistol with him. The hostages appeared unharmed but received medical attention.
Complicated investigative situation
"The processing of the operation and the investigation will take some time," said the police. A total of around 300 officers were deployed.
The events must have been martyrdom not only for the two hostages in the Altmarkt gallery. Radio Dresden employees were also scared to death in the morning. The man tried to destroy a door and shot through a hole in the door, said managing director Tino Utassy of the German Press Agency. "Fortunately, the employees had the presence of mind and then ran out through a second exit and fled."
The morning show teams for Hitradio RTL and Radio Dresden were affected. The perpetrator tried to break into the studios around 8:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. It is difficult to describe how the employees are doing. "They say they're fine, but of course we don't know for sure. Of course we'll do everything we can to get the right help," said Utassy.
Saxony's Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer and Interior Minister Armin Schuster (both CDU) thanked the emergency services for their quick and level-headed action. He was appalled by the act of a presumably mentally disturbed lone perpetrator and relieved that the police were able to free the two hostages unharmed, said Schuster. "This act shows how fragile pre-Christmas contemplation and light-heartedness can be," stressed Dresden's Lord Mayor Dirk Hilbert.
The public prosecutor's office announced that they would like to investigate the circumstances of the hostage-taker's death as part of their investigation. An investigation is underway against the man himself on suspicion of manslaughter, said senior public prosecutor Jürgen Schmidt on Sunday of the German Press Agency. It was initiated before the perpetrator died.