'Why?' Residents of German town hit by carnival rampage want answers

By Joseph Nasr

VOLKMARSEN, Germany, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Residents of the small German town devastated by a rampaging driver who wounded dozens of carnival-goers with his Mercedes wondered aloud on Tuesday whether he was crazy or blinded by rage.

One question was on everyone's minds: why would one of their own turn his car into a weapon against men, women and children taking part in a festive parade?

No one seemed to have an answer.

"All I know is that he lived in a big house with his sister not far from the train station. The family bought it a few years ago," said a bespectacled woman who runs a florist in town.

"He also has relatives who live on this street. I have no idea what went wrong. It's a miracle no one was killed," she added, declining to give her name.

As residents began leaving their homes in Volkmarsen on the day after the incident, a Sesame Street-themed birthday cake float in a parking lot and colourful balloons scattered on medieval alleyways was all that that was left of the carnival.

Police cars stood outside two buildings that had been searched by special units. A police officer guarding one of them, near the florist, said relatives of the suspect lived in an apartment there.

"I can't say more than that," he said.

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About a kilometre (O.6 miles) to the south, a police car blocked a dirt road leading to shabby terraced houses, some appearing abandoned and one of which several locals said was where the perpetrator lived.

"I know nothing about him or his family. He must have serious issues. With his family or with a lover," said 58-year-old Volkmarsen native Rainer Bellmann, enjoying a sunny morning on his terrace two streets away from the suspect's home. "You have to be crazy or blinded by rage to do something like this."

Investigators were hoping to determine the motive of the 29-year-old suspect, who was detained at the scene but sustained injuries which prevented him being questioned on Monday.

Many shops on the cobblestoned main street cutting through the town remained shut on Tuesday. A parade that had been due to take place in the afternoon was replaced with an evening mass in the local church.

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"I wanted to take the children to the parade yesterday but decided against it because the weather forecast said it was going to rain," said 67-year-old Marrianne Dechant, who was showing her three grandchildren the abandoned Sesame Street float boasting drawings of Big Bird, Grover and Monster.

"But next year I'm coming. Rain or no rain." (Writing by Joseph Nasr; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

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