Chicago woman from Germany reacts to terrorist attack: 'I'm surprised they didn't anticipate it'

FOX 32 NEWS - Chicago Police made their presence very visible Monday night at the ChristKrindl Market in Daley Plaza after a terrorist attack at a Christmas market in Berlin, Germany killed at least 12 and injured another 48 people.

"I'm real happy they are here, definitely," said Helga Poennighaus, who was working at The Gift and Candle Palace.

Poennighaus, who is from Germany, said when she heard of the attacks in her homeland, she contacted her family and they were all okay. But the tragedy brought a mix of emotions for her.

“I thought it's really, really sad, but I was not surprised, to be honest because the Christmas market is an easy target and I'm really surprised that they didn't anticipate it,” Poennighaus said.

One local terrorist expert says what happened in Berlin is reminiscent of the truck attack in Nice, Fance last summer and bears the signature of ISIS. But sometimes, he said, all authorities have is what's called a strategic warning.

"Something is going to occur, or there's a likelihood of occurring. Precisely where and when is not easy to determine and these are large open venues often in the center of a square with a lot of foot traffic and it’s just difficult to protect," said Tom Mockaitis, DePaul University Terrorist Expert

In addition to being on the perimeter, Chicago police were also making the rounds inside the Christmas market to keep safety concerns to a minimum.

"Personally we didn't think much about it coming down here, we felt safe being in Chicago, the police are everywhere around here and everything seems safe," said Steve Smith, who was visiting from Memphis.

For Poennighaus, the Berlin attacks made work at the ChristKrindl Market a very reflective time because she and her family had worked at the very same market in Berlin back in the 90's.

"It is a little bit of a strange feeling because I know that space so well and I also know how the streets go and so yah, it is a bit of a creepy feeling, yes," said Poennighaus.

Chicago police said there was no known threat to Chicago or the ChristKrindl Market.

Kate Becker, a spokeswoman for the market, which also operates in Naperville, said, "Our heartfelt thoughts go out to all the families and first responders who were affected by today’s tragedy in Berlin"

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