A 27-year-old Syrian national has been arrested after reportedly throwing a teenage girl onto the train tracks at a railway station in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
The incident occurred on Sunday, Jan. 8, shortly after 5:15 p.m. at the Altena train station in the Märkisches Kreis district.
The 16-year-old schoolgirl disembarked a regional express train traveling to Dortmund and made her way across the platform where she was apprehended by the suspect.
“Suddenly a young man ran after her, grabbed her from behind, and threw her over the edge of the platform onto platform 1 in front of the stunned fellow passengers,” according to a police report. “Then he jumped after himself and held the young girl firmly on the tracks.”
The Syrian national reportedly climbed back onto the platform and proceeded to board his train.
Multiple eyewitnesses got involved in the incident, with railway employees calling for the driver to halt the train and lock in the suspect, while fellow passengers called the authorities and jumped onto the tracks to assist the girl.
Further police investigation into the incident revealed the perpetrator and victim did not know each other, and the suspect was under the influence of narcotics.
He has subsequently been sent to a psychiatric hospital for evaluation while the police continue to investigate.
This incident is the latest in a spate of similar attacks and is evidence of a rising trend in victims being pushed onto train tracks in Germany. According to federal police statistics, 49 people were subject to such an attack in 2021, a sharp increase from the 29 cases recorded the previous year.
‘This act was planned’ — Eritrean migrant who killed 8-year-old child by pushing him in front of train in Frankfurt won’t go to prison
An 8-year-old boy died in the attack last summer
“This phenomenon is currently being noticed in many places in Germany,” stated a police note on the rise in attacks, as cited by German broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW).
In recent years, 38 of the 65 known suspects involved in such attacks were not German nationals, reported DW, showing a disproportionate link between such attacks and migrant crime.
In 2017, a 16-year-old Moroccan national pushed his 34-year-old victim onto the train tracks after attempting to rob her.
A year later, an Eritrean migrant pushed a 40-year-old mother and her 8-year-old son onto the tracks at Frankfurt Central Station in front of an arriving train. The mother barely managed to escape from the incoming ICE express train, but her son was hit and killed before she could save him.
The Eritrean man, 41-year-old Habte Araya, avoided a prison sentence because he had psychiatric issues.
African pushes woman onto railway tracks while fleeing inspectors
Perpetrator is well known to the police
Last year, a 49-year-old Nigerian man caught traveling as a fare-dodger in Frankfurt pushed a 60-year-old woman onto the railway tracks causing her serious injury.
Martin Rettenberger, director of the Criminological Central Office, attempted to offer an explanation for why these incidents often involved newcomers to Germany, telling Deutsche Welle last year that migrants were more likely to be suffering psychiatric issues.
“There is at least the mentally confused to severely mentally ill type of perpetrator,” he told the broadcaster. “People in precarious situations are more likely to be in urban centers and at traffic junctions.”
Rettenberger also claimed that crimes of this nature could in part be put down to the fact that after the migrant crisis of 2015, “we saw at least some immigrants with mental health problems who were not adequately cared for.”