"Events happen that sometimes simply cannot be understood or put into words..." The basketball club ART Giants Düsseldorf is mourning the loss of one of their young players.
Volodymyr Yermakov came to Germany because of the Russian war against Ukraine. He was 17 years old - stabbed to death on Saturday evening at a bus stop in front of the main train station in Oberhausen.
According to police, two groups of youth got into an argument on a bus around 8:15 p.m. Volodymyr Yermakov, his 18-year-old teammate Artem Kozachenko as well as a 14-year-old and a 13-year-old on one side and at least two teenagers on the other.
“When those involved got off the bus at Willy-Brandt-Platz, the argument escalated into a physical altercation,” investigators said on Monday. At least one of the opponents in the group around the basketball player pulled out a knife - and stabbed him.
Yermakov and Kozachenko suffered life-threatening injuries, and their two companions were seriously injured. All four were taken to the hospital. "The 17-year-old Ukrainian died a short time later during the emergency operation," said the police.
The police went to Willy-Brandt-Platz with a large contingent, secured evidence and questioned possible witnesses. "Early in the morning, the investigators managed to identify two young people who were urgently suspected of the crime and temporarily arrested them at their places of residence."
According to the information, it is a 15-year-old from Gelsenkirchen and a 14-year-old from Herne. According to the Essen police headquarters, both had already "come to significant attention in criminal investigations."
Suspicion against the younger of the two was dropped and the 15-year-old is in custody on suspicion of manslaughter and grievous bodily harm. A judge issued an arrest warrant on Sunday afternoon.
In the meantime there were rumors about a possible political background to the crime - but this was not confirmed. What exactly sparked the argument on the bus is part of the investigation.
The violent death of Volodymyr Yermakov reached back to his homeland. The 17-year-old was a junior national team player for Ukraine. "Terrible news for the Ukrainian basketball family," wrote the country's basketball association. “We express great sadness and condolences to Vladimir’s family.”
The Yermakov team was actually supposed to play against the Dresden Titans on Sunday with the ART Giants Düsseldorf. The game was canceled. His club promised to preserve the memory of the deceased. "Volodymyr was very popular with coaches, teammates and friends. He will be remembered as a young person whose everyday life was characterized by pure joy of life and sporting ambition."
Sources: Essen Police Headquarters, ART GIants Düsseldorf, news agencies DPA and AFP