German investigators said Thursday that they foiled a “Nazi terror attack” in a school, after arresting a 16-year-old suspect.
An overnight search of the suspect’s apartment yielded bomb-making materials and large amounts of right-wing extremist, antisemitic and anti-Muslim writings in the teen’s possession, North Rhine-Westphalia state minister Herbert Reul told a press conference. Essen police said they also found spears and other sharp weapons.
“The police prevented a nightmare,” Reul told reporters.
Reul said officers did not find any detonators at the teen’s apartment, noting that the materials found were “functional but not yet ready for use.”
The suspect was allegedly planning to target the Don-Bosco-Gymnasium, the school he currently attends, or another local school he previously attended, the Realschule am Schloss Borbeck, police said.
Both schools were closed Thursday because of the police operations. A statement on the Don-Bosco-Gymnasium’s website Thursday morning said they had “received indications that a crime was being planned at the school.”
While both schools are not explicitly Jewish, the Nazi propaganda found at the teen’s apartment convinced investigators that the motive for a potential attack would have been “Nazi in nature.”
Reul said Thursday afternoon that thus far, no bombs or bomb-related materials had been found at the schools.
The suspect is believed to be suffering from a psychiatric disorder with suicidal tendencies, added Reul, noting that notes had been found that could “be read as an urgent cry for help by a desperate young man.”
“All Democrats have a common task to fight against racism, brutalization and hate,” said NRW’s deputy premier Joachim Stamp, as he thanked police for “preventing a suspected Nazi terror attack.”
Thomas Kutschaty, the state parliamentary leader of the center-left SPD, tweeted Thursday that reports of the alleged plot “shocked me deeply.” He praised the “high level of civil courage and the courageous intervention of the police” that kept students and teachers safe.
The suspect is being questioned while investigators are still combing his home for evidence.