Police in Germany were on Sunday morning trying to make sense of why a 48-year-old local man with no known links to terrorism drove a minivan into a crowded open-air restaurant terrace, killing two people before shooting himself dead.
Although the perpetrator has not been officially named, he has been identified locally as Jens R, a German citizen born about an hour south of the city of Münster, where the attack took place.
“So far there are no indications of a possible motive. The investigation is being conducted at full speed and in all directions,” Martin Botzenhardt of the local prosecutor’s office said.
Authorities are believed to have all but ruled out Islamist extremism as a motive, after establishing Jens R had no links to the Islamist scene.
Instead they are said to be working on the theory the attack may have been a form of “extended” suicide.
Jens R is believed to have had a history of mental illness, and had reportedly made an earlier attempt at suicide. He also reportedly spoke of committing suicide in a “spectacular” manner.
Complicating matters further, he is also said to have had links with the German far-Right scene, though it is not clear how close these alleged links were. According to some reports he had been in touch with far-Right groups over the internet, but was not politically active.
He was also reportedly known to police for a number of petty crimes, such as stealing cell phones and car radios.
Police have now ruled out earlier reports of two possible accomplices escaping from the minivan at the scene of the attack.
Explosives teams were called in overnight to defuse what was at first feared to be a booby trap in the minvan, but it turned out to be fireworks.
A second gun was also found inside the car. A search of Jens R’s flat uncovered a Kalashnikov assault rifle, but it had been deactivated and was unable to fire.
The two people killed in the attack were both German. They were identified on Sunday as a 65-year-old man from Borken, about an hour west of Münster, and a 51-year-old woman from Lüneburg, 180 miles to the north.
Around 20 people were injured in the attack, and several were still in critical condition on Sunday morning according to the authorities.
Who was the driver?
Police said the driver, named locally as 48-year-old German national Jens R, shot himself dead after ramming into the crowd.
According to a report by Süddeutsche Zeitung, the German newspaper, he had a history of mental health issues.
A van ploughed into people sitting outside on a warm afternoon in Münster, crashing into tables outside of the Grosser Kiepenkerl restaurant in the historic centre of the city. The restaurant is a popular tourist attraction in the picturesque city of 300,000 residents.
Lino Baldi, who owns an Italian restaurant in Münster near the scene of the crash, told Sky TG24 that the city centre was packed due to a Saturday market and summer-like temperatures.
The vehicle struck at 3.27pm as tourists and students basked in the sunshine.