Thirty elementary school children were present when 38-year-old Berhan S. climbed over a fence of a school on Mainzer Straße in the Neukölln neighborhood in Berlin and proceeded to stab two girls, aged seven and eight, several times with a knife.
The two students, who attend the Protestant School in Neukölln, were nearly killed. Police report that the suspect calmly smoked a cigarette outside the school before scaling the fence and stabbing the two girls who were playing table tennis in the schoolyard.
Berhan S. allegedly stabbed the eight-year-old in the neck as well as the seven-year-old several times in the upper body.
After the attack, the man reportedly waited calmly for police to arrive. They then arrested the 38-year-old suspect, who was still armed with a kitchen knife. He did not put up a fight and allowed himself to be handcuffed, according to a report from Bild newspaper.
The older child suffered life-threatening injuries. Paramedics responded, and the two victims were flown from the scene via rescue helicopter.
The eight-year-old child’s condition is said to have stabilized, but she nearly lost her life.
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The entire school was locked down, and officers with machine guns entered and searched the building. The children were only allowed outside by the police hours later.
According to media reports, many children were in tears, and parents were called to comfort their children at the scene.
Prosecutors requested the man be placed inside a psychiatric hospital instead of being sent to prison, which the judge complied with. According to a spokeswoman for the public prosecutor’s office, the man appears to be suffering from mental disorders.
Police say the man admitted to the crime. He has been charged with attempted manslaughter and dangerous bodily harm.
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The man, who has a migrant background, said he targeted a little girl rather than an adult because an adult would more likely fight back
The man was born in Berlin. Berhan’s name is a common name in the Middle East, but Germany does not keep crime statistics on whether suspects have a migration background through their parents, unlike Denmark, which keeps detailed statistics on the topic.
Director Thorsten Knauer-Huckauf wrote on the school’s website: “It was with great dismay that we had to learn that two of our students were victims of an act of violence this afternoon. They were seriously injured on the playground by an outside person. The entire school community is deeply saddened and appalled.”
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The suspect returned to his school in the afternoon after being expelled for the day and stabbed a 55-year-old female teacher multiple times in an empty classroom
New information is coming to light that the man, Berhan S., was under suspicion for a stabbing attack in 2009.
On August 30, 2009, his then girlfriend Sonja, who was 24 and shared a child with Berhan S., was stabbed in a residential building at Hallesches Tor in Berlin. Doctors saved her life after she was rushed to the hospital, She described the attacker as a masked man. The mother, who spoke to Bild at the time, said: “It can only have been him. He’s been beating her for eight years, locking her at home and forbidding her to get an education.”
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The mother filed more than 20 complaints against Berhan S. but police never took any action against him. Sonja S., however, said that Berhan S. was not the culprit. Police never arrested him.
He has a long history of various crimes and has been convicted for assault, drug offenses, fare evasion, and property damages.
Germany has seen similar attacks in recent years. In December 2022, an Eritrean migrant stabbed two girls, aged 13 and 14, on the way to school in the town of Illerkirchberg.
Earlier this year, an Afghan migrant walked into a school and in a targeted attack, stabbed a 7-year-old girl in the head five times with a long butcher knife while she was eating breakfast. He told police afterwards that he targeted a child because he thought it would be easier to stab a child than an adult who could fight back.
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In June 2002, a German-Armenian citizen drove his car into a group of schoolchildren in the heart of Berlin in a targeted vehicle attack. The man, who had been arrested many times before, killed a teacher and severely injured 12 students.
In 2021, a Turkish man was arrested for intentionally plowing his car into a group of schoolchildren, killing an 8-year-old girl.