Only one street separates the crime scene from the city hall in Duisburg. The police cordoned off the area with double-tensioned warning tape, and special forces with submachine guns are deployed.
In an attack in a gym in the center of the Ruhr area city, three people were life-threatening and one person was seriously injured. The police were looking for at least one fugitive suspect on Tuesday evening, as the emergency services said. Investigations into the background were ongoing.
"The search measures are in full swing," said a spokeswoman for the responsible Essen police. Investigators said no arrests have been made yet. A "stabbing or cutting weapon" was used. The injured were taken to a hospital. They are German citizens.
Investigators hear witnesses
The police wrote on Twitter: "According to the current status, a person injured other people with an object." Accordingly, the first emergency calls were received by the Duisburg police around 5:40 p.m.
Investigators searched and secured the gym, police said. In the evening, witnesses who had been training on site at the time of the crime were questioned. The studio was now secured, it said shortly after 8 p.m. The State Criminal Police Office set up a contact point for witnesses in the adjacent pedestrian zone. A police helicopter was also in use, police officers were looking for traces on all floors of the affected studio.
"We very much regret the incident in our club in Duisburg and hope that the victims will recover quickly," said John Reed Fitness in an email at the request of the German Press Agency. They support the police investigations in all possible places. "The safety and health of our members and our employees are our top priority. Our goal is for them to feel safe and in good hands in our studios." The operator did not provide any further information about the incident.
Bärbel Bas: "Thoughts with the injured"
According to a dpa reporter, heavily armed special police forces were on site. Eyewitnesses were questioned by the police in a nearby restaurant, he reported. One still had his sports bag with him.
In connection with the attack, the police asked the population to avoid the affected area around the city hall in the city center. "We are on site with strong forces," said a spokesman for the Essen police.
Bundestag President Bärbel Bas, who represents a constituency in Duisburg, was dismayed by the attack. "Terrible," wrote the SPD politician on Twitter on Tuesday evening. "My thoughts are with the injured. I hope that the emergency services will soon be able to clarify the threatening situation."