The driver, identified by police as a German-Armenian citizen, drove into pedestrians on a sidewalk near the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche, a well-known monument in Berlin, around 10:30 a.m. The car then crashed into a shop window on an adjacent street, according to the city’s police and fire department.
Berlin’s top security official, Iris Spranger, said the murdered woman was a teacher accompanying a group of high school students on a trip from the German state of Hesse. Several of the students were among more than 12 people injured in the incident.
Six people suffered life-threatening injuries and three others were seriously injured, the Berlin fire brigade said.
The driver was apparently detained by members of the public at the scene and then arrested by a police officer in the area, Berlin police spokesman Thilo Cablitz said. Police are trying to determine if the man deliberately rammed into the crowd or if it was an accident, possibly due to a medical emergency, he added.
The suspect is currently in hospital, Berlin police president Barbara Slowik said at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.
“We currently have no conclusive evidence of a politically motivated act,” Slowik said.
Police have urged the public to submit videos or images of the scene for officers to watch for clues.
Investigators are searching the man’s car, a small silver Renault, but no confession letter was found in the vehicle, as previously reported by local media, Spranger said.
“I was told there are posters in the car, but there are no real confessions. But you have to be very careful with such statements,” Spranger added.
More than 130 aid workers responded to the incident, Berlin mayor Franziska Giffey said in a message on Twitter, thanking them for their swift action.
“I am deeply affected by this incident. We know that one has been killed and several have been seriously injured. Police are working urgently to clear the situation,” Giffey tweeted.
Videos and images shared on social media showed blankets covering what appeared to be a body in an area cordoned off by police and a helicopter circling above.
Scottish-American actor John Barrowman, who was on the scene, said the car ran onto the sidewalk and hit people before crashing into a shop window. “I heard the bang and the crash when we were in a store and then we came out and we just saw the car,” he said in a video posted on Twitter, adding that he saw some people with injuries.