The 18-year-old gunman who opened fire at a crowded Munich shopping mall, killing nine people and wounding more than two dozen others before killing himself, was obsessed with mass shootings, authorities said yesterday.
Investigators searched the German-Iranian man’s home and found literature about mass killings, including a book titled Rampage In Head: Why Students Kill, but no evidence that he was linked to extremist groups such as Islamic State. They believe he acted alone.
All the people killed were Munich residents, including seven teenagers. Germany’s interior minister Thomas de Maiziere said other information showed the shooter, who he identified only as David, had researched a 2009 school shooting in Germany, and the bomb and gun attacks in Norway by Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people exactly five years ago on Friday.
“There was material found in the apartment of the suspect that showed a particular interest in shooting sprees, but there is so far no indication of any connection to international terrorism,” de Maiziere said.
Initial investigations suggest the Munich-born suspect had been treated for psychological problems, but details were being confirmed, said Munich prosecutor Thomas Steinkraus-Koch.
Authorities have not been able to talk with the parents of the gunman. De Maiziere said they were asylum seekers from Iran who came to Germany in the late 1990s. Robert Heimberger, the head of Bavaria’s criminal police, said it appeared the gunman had hacked a Facebook account and sent a message inviting people to come to the mall for a free giveaway.
The posting, sent from a young woman’s account, urged people to come to the mall at 4pm saying: “I’ll give you something if you want, but not too expensive.”
“It appears it was prepared by the suspect and then sent out,” Heimberger said.
De Maiziere said the information about the hack is still being checked out, but “if it’s true then it’s a particularly perfidious act”.
The attack in the Bavarian capital sparked a massive security operation as authorities – already on edge after the recent attacks in Wuerzburg and Nice, France – received witness reports of multiple shooters carrying rifles shortly before 6pm. Eight hours later police declared a “cautious all clear,” saying the suspect was among the 10 dead and had likely acted alone.
Authorities are still trying to determine a motive, and de Maiziere said they were investigating reports that the shooter had been bullied.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel called a special meeting of her government’s security cabinet yesterday with de Maiziere, other ministers and the head of the security agencies.
After the meeting, she pledged that Germany would “do everything possible to protect the security and freedom of all people”, saying that in the wake of an attack earlier in the week near Wuerzburg and the deadly attack in Nice, she understood Germans were wondering “where is safe?”
“Such an evening and such a night is difficult to bear,” she said of the Munich attack. “And it’s even more difficult to bear because we have had so much terrible news in so few days.”
An address on Munich’s Dachauer Strasse, where the shooter lived, was searched by police yesterday. A neighbour described him as “very quiet”.
“He only ever said ‘hi’. His whole body language was of somebody who was very shy,” the neighbour said.
Some 2,300 police from across Germany and Austria were scrambled in response to the attack, which happened less than a week after a 17-year-old Afghan asylum-seeker wounded five people in an axe-and-knife rampage that started on a train near the Bavarian city of Wuerzburg. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the train attack, but authorities have said the teen – who was shot and killed by police – probably acted alone.