Ulm: Taking hostages with soft air weapons: What did the perpetrator want to achieve?

The morning after, there is hardly anything left to indicate the dramatic scenes that took place in Ulm at Münsterplatz.

Ulm: Taking hostages with soft air weapons: What did the perpetrator want to achieve?

The morning after, there is hardly anything left to indicate the dramatic scenes that took place in Ulm at Münsterplatz. There is a market again on Saturday morning, only a popular café is closed. The evening before, an armed man took six hostages there. The police ended the hostage-taking by shooting at the man. The 44-year-old German suspect was taken to hospital with serious injuries.

The weapons he used to threaten his hostages were deceptively real-looking soft-air weapons. But that only came to light later. According to police and prosecutors, the hostage taker also had other weapons such as knives, axes and a machete in a bag and in the car.

The background to the crime was initially unclear. According to security circles, the man stated during the hostage-taking that he wanted to be shot by the special operations command (SEK). The 44-year-old is said to have been in the Bundeswehr. He is said to be an Afghanistan veteran. “Bild” had previously reported on this. According to dpa information, the man had expressed suicidal intentions several times in the past.

The police remained tight-lipped on Sunday, including about the hostage-taker's health. “The investigative authorities are currently checking with the treating doctors whether the accused is fit for questioning so that he can be brought before the responsible magistrate,” said a statement on Saturday.

The man entered the café on Münsterplatz on Friday around 6:45 p.m., where there were around 13 people at the time. Even before the police arrived, some of the guests were able to leave the restaurant. The hostage taker took six people into his power using weapons that looked deceptively real. He later let five go and initially stayed in the restaurant with one hostage.

At 8:20 p.m., the suspect suddenly came out with the hostage and, according to police, threatened them with a weapon. The police assumed there were real weapons and a significant danger. “As the operation continued, the 44-year-old was rendered incapacitated by a targeted police shot,” the statement said. The Baden-Württemberg State Criminal Police Office took over the investigation.

The police had closed the central Münsterplatz in Ulm and the entrances there because of the operation. A passer-by reported to dpa that she heard three shots. "My heart was pumping." At that moment she didn't think anything at all and just ran away. The hostages received psychological care from emergency counselors. The mayor of Ulm, Gunter Czisch (CDU), hopes that everyone can quickly come to terms with the dramatic event. He was relieved that no hostage was physically injured.

Münsterplatz is located in the heart of the 130,000-inhabitant city on the Danube, on the border between Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria. The cathedral, which has the highest church tower in the world at 161.53 meters, is the city's landmark.

It was not the only major police operation in the southwest in recent days. In Villingen-Schwenningen in the Black Forest, a 27-year-old found his parents and brother dead in his parents' house on Friday. The bodies all had stab wounds. According to initial investigations, the police assume that the 32-year-old son, next to whom a knife was found, first killed his parents and then himself. The background is still obscure.

There was a fatal knife attack on an 18-year-old student in St. Leon-Rot near Heidelberg on Thursday. An 18-year-old is said to have killed the girl with whom he was said to have been in a relationship for a time. The student had already filed a criminal complaint against the accused in November for intentional bodily harm. The suspect is in custody.

Do you have suicidal thoughts? Telephone counseling offers help. It is anonymous, free and available around the clock on 0 800 / 111 0 111 and 0 800 / 111 0 222. Advice via email is also possible. A list of nationwide help centers can be found on the website of the German Society for Suicide Prevention.