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3 dead after Austria driver runs over, stabs pedestrians on famous street

"At first I thought it was an accident and the driver would stop, but he carried on purposefully and had deliberately killed the man," said Graz, Austria, Mayor Siegfried Nagl, who was riding his scooter near the chaos.

By
Doug G. Ware

GRAZ, Austria, June 20 (UPI) -- A seven-year-old boy was among three people killed in Austria Saturday afternoon after a motorist randomly and deliberately ran over bystanders and stabbed several others, witnesses said.

Witnesses said the man drove erratically around the streets of Graz, Austria's second-largest city, and appeared to plow into crowds at random. More than 30 pedestrians were hurt amid the carnage and at least ten ended up in the hospital with serious injuries. Several are listed in critical condition, BBC News reported Saturday.

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The 26-year-old suspect did not stop the mayhem until he pulled up in his battered vehicle at a nearby police station, news reports said. The man was not immediately identified but police reportedly said he is a professional driver and is married with two children.

According to officials, three children were among those injured and one boy died. One witness told the Wiener Zeitung newspaper that bodies of the dead and injured littered the historic Herrengasse street in Graz's Innere Stadt district.

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The suspect was not identified but officials said he is of Bosnian heritage and appears to suffer from mental illness.

"I had a friend who was there and she saw people flying through the air. She saw bodies lying there, it was absolute chaos and mayhem," witness Sea Rotmann told Sky News. "Apparently the guy was attacking two elderly people with a knife and then attacking police with a knife when he got out."

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One man was seriously wounded in the knife attack, police said, and a woman received minor lacerations.

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"There was an appalling incident in the centre of Graz, which has caused major alarm and left the city deeply shaken," the Graz City Council said in a statement. "A killer used his car as a weapon and deliberately ran people down on a rampage. The perpetrator is in custody."

Graz Mayor Siegfried Nagl said he was riding his motorized scooter in the middle of the chaos, which began at about 12:15 p.m. local time, and nearly became a victim himself. Nagl described hearing a loud bang and seeing a man killed when he was hit by the car at "extremely high speed," Britain's Independent newspaper reported.

"At first I thought it was an accident and the driver would stop, but he carried on purposefully and had deliberately killed the man," he said.

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A motive is still under investigation but one police official said the driver was "psychotic" and had problems at home.

"We are shocked and dismayed...here is no explanation and no excuse for this attack," Styria Gov. Hermann Schützenhöfer said. "We have much to do to ensure cohesion in our community, which has clearly become difficult for many people. I appeal to everyone to seek unity in their lives and build bridges, not walls."

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