The alleged kidnapper in a pharmacy in Karlsruhe has been taken into custody. As prosecutors and police announced, a judge issued an arrest warrant against the 20-year-old suspect on Saturday on charges of hostage-taking.
The accused is said to have threatened three people with a loaded alarm gun on Friday evening and held them in an adjoining room of the pharmacy. Another eight people were in the back of the store. According to a spokesman, these included customers and employees of the pharmacy.
According to current knowledge, the 20-year-old suspect committed the crime alone in the city center the night before. The initial suspicion that the man might have had an accomplice was not confirmed: "The 20-year-old acted alone." Of the eleven hostages at the beginning, nine were able to hide in the building relatively quickly. Two people were then further in the power of the suspect.
The police set up an investigation team with ten officers. The 20-year-old, known to the police, had the hostages in his power for almost five hours. Eventually the access was granted by special forces. All hostages and the perpetrator remained physically unharmed.
According to the Ministry of the Interior, 350 forces were involved in the hostage-taking – in addition to police officers from the Karlsruhe police headquarters, a negotiating group from the Mannheim police headquarters, an advisory group from the State Criminal Police Office and special forces from the police headquarters. "I wish the people who were in the hostage-taker's power for hours that they will not suffer any psychological consequences and will be able to process what happened quickly," said Interior Minister Thomas Strobl (CDU), according to a spokeswoman. Strobl thanked the emergency services for their prudent use, which prevented worse things from happening.
For reasons of investigation tactics, the police have so far given no information on possible demands by the hostage-taker, such as ransom. A spokesman was also initially unable to say whether the hostages were customers and employees of the pharmacy.
The pharmacy could not be reached by phone the day after the crime. However, according to the observations of a dpa reporter, customers were able to pick up medication orders at a side door. The main entrance was boarded up. Photos showed shattered glass on the floor of the store.
The crime began around 4:30 p.m. Friday. Police spokesman Dennis Kohl said that several emergency calls were received from the pharmacy and only two minutes later the first police officers were at the scene. Officials cordoned off the area. Then an attempt was made to enter into negotiations with the hostage-taker. After almost five hours, around 9:10 p.m., special forces stormed the pharmacy and ended the kidnapping.
The alleged perpetrator was overpowered and arrested. The German suspect was no stranger to the police: Kohl said he had been noticed in the past for violent and property crimes, among other things.
After the rescue, the hostages immediately received offers of help, and an emergency chaplain was also there. Kohl emphasized: "One can only imagine how the people who were in this exceptional situation for several hours are doing."
The Mayor of Karlsruhe, Frank Mentrup, was shocked and at the same time relieved by the bloodless end. "It makes me deeply sad that there was such an act in our midst," said the SPD politician on Friday evening. At the same time, he emphasized: "Karlsruhe is relieved that this dangerous situation ended without bloodshed."
He thanked the police, fire brigade and rescue services on behalf of the city. They would have protected the hostages' lives. Mentrup wished the freed hostages "that they can soon put the terrible experiences behind them".