Ratingen: Explosion in a high-rise building – the police find a body

Police forensics
The investigations into the explosion in a high-rise building in Ratingen are ongoing. © picture alliance/dpa

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After the explosion and the large-scale operation in Ratingen, the police found another fatality. An older man who also lived in the high-rise had died, said Silke Wehmhörner from the Düsseldorf police at a press conference on Friday afternoon. It is still unclear whether this body is related to the explosion. An autopsy of the body has been requested. According to information from the “Spiegel”, the man could no longer be cared for due to the several hours of use.

The press conference spoke of a “targeted” and “well thought-out attack” on the emergency services. “You don’t do that spontaneously,” says Heike Schultz, crime director. The suspect planned the attack and barricaded himself in the apartment. The alleged perpetrator is said to have doused himself with a liquid and set the apartment on fire. Access could therefore only take place with a delay.

An arrest warrant was issued for the suspect for attempted murder. The charge is attempted murder in nine cases, since a targeted attack on the nine injured emergency services (7 fire and rescue workers and 2 police officers) is assumed. The act was insidious and was committed with dangerous means. The suspect has so far remained silent on the allegations.

A total of 33 people were injured during the operation: three firefighters critically, two law enforcement officers critically, four firefighters seriously, 22 SEK officers slightly and the caretaker and the suspect easily. At first there was talk that the suspect was also seriously injured, this was denied at the press conference on Friday afternoon.

Suspect from Ratingen is silent

According to a police spokesman, the apartment could only be entered on Friday. “There was extinguishing work and a lot of extinguishing water that first had to be disposed of.” Investigators found several weapons. A PTB weapon and several knives and daggers were secured, said Schultz. A vessel was also found from which the suspect is said to have thrown the flammable liquid at the emergency services.

The 57-year-old suspect is silent on the allegations. According to the investigators, he should belong to the so-called prepper scene because he had accumulated a lot of supplies such as toilet paper and water boxes.

One day after the explosion in Ratingen-West in North Rhine-Westphalia, five seriously injured fire and rescue services were in an artificial coma on Friday. They were taken to special clinics for burn injuries in Cologne, Duisburg, Dortmund, Düsseldorf and Bochum. “The colleagues suffered burns of up to 40 percent of the body surface,” said the fire brigade in Ratingen. At the press conference on Friday afternoon at 3:30 p.m., it was announced that there were eight rescue workers who were life-threatening or seriously injured.

Large-scale operation in Ratingen – what has happened so far

A few hours after the explosion in the high-rise on Thursday morning, the police found a female body. Apparently, the person found had been dead for a long time. In addition, according to current knowledge, 31 firefighters and police officers were injured, some of them critically. This was reported by NRW Interior Minister Herbert Reul on Thursday in the Interior Committee of the Düsseldorf state parliament. The public prosecutor’s office in Düsseldorf is now investigating whether it is attempted manslaughter or attempted murder.

On Thursday afternoon it became known: The 57-year-old homeowner was arrested. Special forces stormed the apartment and arrested the man, said a police spokeswoman on site on Thursday. The man was badly injured. Whether he was injured by the explosion or during the arrest cannot be said at this time, the police spokeswoman said.

The suspect, who is said to have caused the explosion in a high-rise building in Ratingen, was no stranger to the police and judiciary. Because of an unpaid amount of money, there was an arrest warrant against him, said Laura Neumann, spokeswoman for the Düsseldorf public prosecutor’s office, on Friday of the German Press Agency. He also has previous entries, “but nothing relevant, nothing comparable,” she said.

The suspect is said to belong to the Corona denier scene

Regarding a possible corona denier background of the arrested man, Reul told the radio station “WDR2” on Friday morning: “I’m not quite sure.” The man was criminally conspicuous, but only with minor offences. On Thursday, Reul said that the 57-year-old German had “stayed mentally in the corona denier environment”. This would have resulted from initial research on social media. According to media reports, it could also be a name confusion. A spokesman for the Düsseldorf police also confirmed this possibility when asked by dpa.

Explosion in Ratingen: large-scale police operation

Around ten in the morning, the homeowners’ association informed the police that a resident’s mailbox was overflowing, Reul reported. The police then called the fire brigade on site to open the door.

When the police and fire brigade were standing in front of her apartment door, her 57-year-old son suddenly ripped it open, police spokesman Raimund Dockter reported in the evening. “There was an explosion immediately, immediately, i.e. a fireball came towards the colleagues from the fire brigade and police.”

As a result, a 25-year-old police officer and a 29-year-old police officer were critically injured. “22 others sustained minor injuries,” the police said later in the evening. In addition, seven firefighters were seriously injured, three of them critically.

In the further course, the suspect also set a fire, which made entering the apartment and the reconnaissance work more difficult.

In the hours after the explosion, the situation remained unclear. Helicopters and police officers with special equipment and snipers were on site in large numbers. Banging noises could be heard again and again. The scene was cordoned off over a wide area.

Explosion in Ratingen: condition of the seriously injured emergency services

Ratingen’s Mayor Klaus Pesch expressed his horror. “Those who were in the front of the fire – that’s ten to twelve people with the most massive burns – and who hopefully survive it, will certainly carry it with them for the rest of their lives,” he told the German Press Agency. “There is really hope and fear.”

In Ratingen, many emergency services are known to each other. “The effect is corresponding,” said Pesch. “It’s as if a large volcanic eruption had descended on an entire family.” Psychologists and emergency chaplains were ready for the emergency services.

When asked if he knew anything about the condition of the seriously injured emergency services, Reul (CDU) said on WDR2 radio: “Unfortunately not anymore”. And further: “What I know with that doesn’t sound good.”

The five critically injured rescue workers survived the night, reports WDR.


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