German police have hit out at disgruntled passengers and social media users who had called for the “immediate and ruthless use” of snipers to end a dramatic hostage incident that closed the airport for around 20 hours, leading to the cancellation of hundreds of flights.
On Saturday evening, a 35-year-old man, who had taken his four-year-old daughter hostage crashed through the north security gate at Hamburg Airport and drove onto the airport where he reportedly fired two shots from a firearm and threw Molotov cocktails onto the tarmac.
The suspect, who is originally from Türkiye, parked his car beside a Turkish Airlines plane, which was preparing to depart for Istanbul with passengers already onboard, in an alleged attempt to remove his daughter from Germany.
Heavily armed police evacuated the plane, as well as the surrounding aircraft and the airport terminal, as they attempted to resolve the hostage situation by sending specially trained negotiators to the scene.
That tactic, however, was criticised by some people on social media who demanded the Hamburg police department shoot the suspect in order to get the airport back up and running.
“As part of our reporting on X about the hostage-taking at Hamburg Airport, we received an alarming number of comments that were simply morally reprehensible and inhumane in view of the tragic situation,” noted Kay Metzke, the head of social media for Hamburg Police.
“Among other things, there were calls for the immediate and ruthless use of snipers to fulfil monetary and recreational needs,” Metzke continued.
“Emotionalisation due to the situation is more than understandable. On the other hand, we cannot and do not want to leave the partial devaluation of the people involved uncommented.”
“Our top priority was to protect the life of the little girl. We are grateful for the favourable outcome of the operation and appeal for more humanity!”
After crashing through the security gate at 8 pm on Saturday night, it took police two hours to establish contact with the suspect, although initial attempts to end the drama weren’t successful.
It wasn’t until around 2:25 pm on Sunday that the man eventually exited the car, and police arrested him without resistance. His daughter was unharmed.
Police say the man had got into an “exceptional psychological situation” with his ex-wife over the custody of their child and was already known to police having previously removed his daughter to Türkiye without her mother’s authority.
Hamburg Police say Saturday night’s drama drew a massive police response, with around 920 emergency responders sent to Hamburg Airport, including from many surrounding areas.
On Monday, Hamburg Airport warned that disruptions would continue as airlines reestablished their schedules following the prolonged airport closure.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.