Poison attack in Darmstadt: attempted murder of students

NAfter six people had to be brought to hospitals on Monday with symptoms of intoxication from the campus of the Technical University (TU) Darmstadt and one person was temporarily in mortal danger, the public prosecutor’s office has started an investigation into attempted murder. This was announced by Chief Public Prosecutor Robert Hartmann from the Darmstadt Public Prosecutor’s Office on Tuesday. Hartmann said the harmful substance was apparently mixed into different foods. For this reason, there is an initial suspicion of an intentional act. The police have formed an investigation team of 40 people called “Light”.

Since, according to the initial results of the investigation, chemical substances had been added to food and water containers in several places, the management of the TU Darmstadt appealed to all students and the staff not to consume any food stored in kitchenettes or other rooms of the university in the next few days. Initially, the possibility was not ruled out that the incorrect use of cleaning agents or the like could have led to the symptoms of poisoning. On Monday evening, however, the suspicion was soon confirmed that it was probably a poison attack.

All six of the poisoned people were in the building belonging to the Materials and Geosciences Department on the Lichtwiese campus when symptoms of poisoning such as nausea and sometimes discolored limbs appeared. Those affected received first medical care and then taken to hospitals. According to the police, a 30-year-old student was initially in mortal danger, but his condition was later stabilized in the clinic. All of the victims are doing better now. “Great relief!” Wrote the university in a corresponding Twitter message. The last two people affected could also leave the clinic on the same day, it said.

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Massive hurt as a motive?

Katrin Streich, criminal psychologist and deputy head of the Institute for Psychology and Threat Management in Darmstadt, explained when asked that, according to the current state of the investigation, something can only be said about a possible perpetrator with reservations. In view of the course of events already described by the investigators and the public prosecutor’s office, however, the hypothesis is permissible that the perpetrator could have had an experience in connection with the TU Darmstadt that was subjectively felt to be a massive offense. The criminal psychologist considers an act of situational or affective violence to be less likely. The procedure speaks for an act that may have been planned and well prepared over a long period of time.

If such a case were still speculative at the moment, the person in question would have previously shown a specific behavior with some probability, for example only commenting on one topic with family or friends. At this point there is also a starting point for a preventive approach, always provided that this change is perceived by third parties.

The Lord Mayor of Darmstadt, Jochen Partsch (The Greens), was shocked and wished those affected a speedy recovery. Everything must now be done to guarantee the safety of students and employees at TU Darmstadt, he said.