Thursday May 12, 2022

Police action at two schools in Essen
Police with a sniffer dog stand in the entrance of a suspect’s home in Essen, western Germany, May 12, 2022, after a 16-year-old boy was taken into custody on suspicion of planning attacks at two schools. Fabian Strauch/picture alliance/Getty

Berlin — Officials in western Germany said Thursday that police had foiled a “suspected Nazi terror attack” by a high school student against his classmates or former classmates. Police special forces in Essen, a city in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), raided the apartment of a 16-year-old student and later searched two schools in the area for explosives.

Weapons and evidence of the student’s far-right-wing tendencies were found and he was taken into custody. Essen police are now investigating the boy for allegedly planning an attack on two schools.

“Big thanks to @Police_NRW_E for preventing a suspected Nazi terror attack,” NRW Deputy Prime Minister Joachim Stamp said in a tweet. “Regardless of the great performance of our #police and the clarification of the case, all democrats have the common task to fight against #racism, brutalization and hate.”

German news agency DPA also said there had been indications of the teenager’s right-wing tendencies, but police would not confirm any motivation for the apparent plot. According to their report, a manifesto was found in which the suspect voiced hate for several groups or individuals.

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“We can confirm that the suspect is a 16-year-old German student of the Don Bosco High School,” police said, refusing to provide any information about the boy’s political views. “Fortunately, nothing happened at the schools. In what direction it might have gone is now being investigated.”

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The police said their investigation started Wednesday evening after they received information that a 16-year-old student might have hidden bombs in two local schools. Based on that information, police special forces stormed and searched an apartment near one school early Thursday morning.

The 16-year-old suspect, who lives at the residence with his parents, was arrested in his room and taken for questioning.

Police action at two schools in Essen
Police officers carry evidence from a suspect’s home in Essen, Germany, May 12, 2022, in North Rhine-Westphalia state. A 16-year-old boy was taken into custody on suspicion of planning attacks against at least one school in the city. David Young/picture alliance/Getty

Police were still searching the Don Bosco school in Essen-Borbeck, where the suspect was enrolled, and another local school he had previously attended. According to police, the tip they received suggested that a student might have planned a crime at his current or former school. Germany’s biggest tabloid “Bild” said the tip came from a classmate.

North Rhine-Westphalia lawmaker Thomas Kutschaty, who lives in Essen, expressed shock and extended his thanks to residents and law enforcement “from the bottom of my heart,” adding in a Twitter post that it was, “probably thanks to high civil courage and the courageous intervention of the police that nothing happened to teachers, students.”

Police action at two schools in Essen
The entrance to a school in Essen, Germany is guarded by police, May 12, 2022. Fabian Strauch/picture alliance/Getty

According to NRW state Interior Minister Herbert Reul, during the raid of the suspect’s home police discovered homemade firearms and components for building bombs. He said, among other things, a crossbow was seized, as well as 16 tubes containing “mixtures of explosives” to which watches had been attached.

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Some of the tubes also contained nails, Reul said during the press conference.

“To what extent all this would have been functional is now being investigated,” he said, confirming that police had also seized “xenophobic and right-wing extremist material.”

He said some of that material included anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim documents. Reul added that there were indications the suspect has possible psychological problems and had experienced suicidal thoughts, saying: “The notes found can be read as a young man’s cry for help.”

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