“He was 1: 1 with him”: How helpers experienced the attack in Würzburg

“He was 1: 1 with him”
How helpers experienced the attack in Würzburg

Several witnesses try to stop the knife attacker in downtown Würzburg. They stand in his way and throw chairs at him. One of the helpers tells how he screamed in vain to warn a later victim. Another portrays a struggle.

The fact that not more people are among the victims of the Würzburg knife attacker is obviously also thanks to courageous citizens who attacked the attacker with objects. One of them is Chia Rabiei. According to his own words, the Kurd with Iranian citizenship has lived in Germany for 18 months, currently in an asylum seeker accommodation in Würzburg. “I tried to keep him busy until the police came,” says Rabiei.

Videos of these scenes, which have been circulating on the Internet since the attack, show how the Kurd repeatedly opposes the 24-year-old Somali, who is armed with a long knife, and defends himself with a backpack. “Suddenly he fought against him. He was 1: 1 with him,” said eyewitness Dietrich Winter, describing the event. “He slipped, the assassin came up to him. I look at him and see how his life goes by.”

Dietrich Winter and two friends, whom he says he has known since childhood, also intervened: “Chairs, bottles – we tried everything. But that didn’t distract him,” says the 21-year-old. “I felt it was my job to warn everyone and get them out of here as quickly as possible.” He yelled at a youth on a bench on Barbarossaplatz. “He had headphones inside, he didn’t hear anything.” The perpetrator attacked him from behind. Winter said he saw the attacker stab his victim three or four times from behind. The 16-year-old teenager was seriously injured.

“If he were in there, more would have happened”

His friend pulled a construction site sign out of its holder. “We ran to him (the attacker) and threw the thing at him,” says Winter. “Then he focused on us again and didn’t go into this restaurant. If he’d got in there, more would have happened.”

The men have to deal with dramatic images. “I saw this woman, I screamed at her with everything I could. My vocal cords – I screamed almost all of them out,” says an eyewitness Winter. “But she didn’t hear it.” The perpetrator grabbed her by the braid and stabbed her several times. The Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder wants to award courageous helpers the Bavarian Rescue Medal. He told the “Main Post”: “You have shown the highest level of moral courage.”

Meanwhile, the investigation into the background of the crime continues. Evidence suggests an Islamist background. The perpetrator could also be mentally ill and possibly incapable of guilt. The 24-year-old killed three women and injured seven other people in downtown Würzburg on Friday afternoon.

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