Ulm hostage taker was equipped with light air weapons

01/27/2024 3:56 pm (current 01/27/2024 4:00 pm)

The hostage taking in Ulm led to a large-scale operation ©APA/dpa

With apparently real small air guns, a man took six hostages under his control in a bar on Ulm's Münsterplatz – on Friday night the police ended the hostage taking by shooting the man. All hostages remained unharmed. The 44-year-old German suspect was taken to hospital with serious injuries and underwent surgery. The background to the crime is still unclear.

According to the police and the Public Ministry, the kidnapper had other weapons such as knives, axes and machetes in his bag and car. “Investigating 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,” a statement said on Saturday.

On Friday evening, at around 6:45 pm, the man entered a bar on Ulm's Münsterplatz with what appeared to be real weapons, where there were around 13 people at the time. Even before the police arrived, some guests managed to leave the restaurant. The kidnapper placed six people in his power using weapons that looked deceptively real. He later released five of them and initially stayed in the restaurant with one hostage.

According to police, at 8:20 pm the suspect unexpectedly left with the hostages and threatened them with a gun. Police assumed there were real weapons and a significant danger. “During the course of the operation, the 44-year-old man was incapacitated by a well-aimed police shot,” the statement said on Saturday. He was taken to hospital with serious injuries and his life was not in danger.

The suspect in the crime would have been in the Bundeswehr, according to security sources. He is said to be an Afghanistan veteran. He also reportedly expressed suicidal intentions several times. Due to a Germany-wide manhunt and information from the soldier's ex-wife, information emerged about the man's whereabouts in Ulm on Friday night.

Security circles reported that the man had stated during the hostage taking that he wanted to be shot by the Special Operations Command (SEK). The Baden-Württemberg State Criminal Police took over the investigation.

Police closed the central Münsterplatz in Ulm and the entrances there because of the operation. A passerby reported hearing three gunshots. “My heart was pounding.” At that moment she didn't think anything and just ran away.

The hostages received psychological care from emergency counselors. Ulm Mayor Gunter Czisch said on Saturday that he hopes everyone can quickly come to terms with the dramatic event. He was relieved that no hostages were physically injured.

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

On Saturday the city center was full of people again, there was a market. A demonstration marched through the square under the bright sun. The fact that there was a hostage taking here on Friday was only evidenced by the closed restaurant.

(SERVICE – Are you in a desperate life situation and need help? Talk to other people about it. The Ministry of Health's suicide prevention portal offers help offers to people with suicidal thoughts and their families. You can find details Contact information for help organizations in Austria in. The emergency telephone advice number is available at around 2:00 pm and can be contacted free of charge on 142. Information for young people is available at ).