Munich Shooting: Lone Gunman Reportedly Obsessed with Mass Killings

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Munich Shooting: Lone Gunman Reportedly Obsessed with Mass Killings

Perpetrator may have lured some of victims to their deaths by enticing them with free meal

The shooter or shooters remain at large, and police have warned people in Munich to avoid public places. (Photo: Matthias Balk/AFP/Getty Images)

Developing...

The 18-year-old man identified as the lone perpetrator in Friday's shooting that left nine people dead, including children, was obsessed with mass killings and law enforcement sources say he may have lured some of his victims to their deaths by offering free food at the local McDonald's where much of the carnage took place.

While authorities searched the home of the man, who police say killed himself following the attack, the Associated Press reports they "found a considerable amount of literature about mass killings, including a book titled 'Rampage in Head: Why Students Kill.'"  Officials said there was no available evidence he was linked to any political or extremist ideologies.

"Documents were found about mass shootings," Munich's police chief Hubertus Andrae told reporters. "The perpetrator was obviously obsessed with the issue."

Updated: 9:32am EDT (7/23/16):

The Guardian reports:

The lone teenager who shot dead nine people and injured 27 others in Munich had researched school killing sprees and attempted to lure victims to the scene of his rampage with an offer of free food on social media, officials have said.

Police said the 18-year-old gunman, who opened fire at a crowded shopping centre and McDonald’s restaurant on Friday evening, had been raised in Munich and was still in full-time education.

They added that he had likely been in psychiatric care and there were indicators he had been treated for depression.

Robert Heimberger, a police investigator, said on Saturday it appeared the gunman had hacked a Facebook account and lured people to the shopping centre with an offer of free food.

The post, sent from a young woman’s account, urged people to come to McDonald’s 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.

Updated: 8:04pm EDT:

The Washington Post reports:

The rampage prompted authorities to lock down the southern German city and launch a massive manhunt for as many as three suspected perpetrators. Police later determined that the attack was apparently carried out by a lone gunman at Munich’s Olympia shopping complex and that he committed suicide about a half mile away.

There were no immediate details about the victims of what a police spokesman said “looks like a terrorist attack.”

In a tweet by local law enforcement in Munich, the notion of a lone shooter in today's attack appears to be confirmed:

Update 5:50pm EDT: Anti-Immigrant Terrorism? At Least 9 Dead, and More Wounded, in Munich Shooting Spree

Even as law enforcement officials would not speculate regarding motivations for the violence, an increasing amount of reporting and emerging eye-witness accounts suggest the shootings may have been a terrorist attack motivated by far-right xenophobia or anti-immigrant sentiment.

As the Guardian reports:

A witness, Luan Zequiri, said he was at the scene when the shooting broke out near the McDonald’s restaurant.

He told the German broadcaster N-tv that he heard the attacker yell an anti-foreigner slur and “there was a really loud scream”.

He said he saw only one attacker, who was wearing boots and a backpack. Zequiri said: “I looked in his direction and he shot two people on the stairs.” Zequiri then hid and made his escape when the way was clear.

According to reporting by Sputnik, "locals suggest that the mall targeted was known as a spot where migrants often met. The shopping center was also near the Hasenbergl district, which hosts a large immigrant population."

Contradicting that narrative, on-air reporting by CNN indicated a gunman shouted Allahuh Akbar while shooting victims inside a McDonald's restaurant. None of these individual reports could be independently verified.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports:

German officials said investigators were looking into the possibility that the attack might have been motivated by anti-immigrant sentiments, as well as the prospect that Islamist extremism was behind it. Language against foreigners can be heard on a recording from the scene of the shooting, but it was not immediately clear who was speaking. A German television station said a witness told a colleague that the shooter shouted “Bloody foreigners!” at the scene of the McDonald’s attack. There was no immediate confirmation of that account.

German news media reported that police found a body, believed to be that of the McDonald’s shooter, about half a mile from the scene and were checking a backpack for explosives.

A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy

A German intelligence official noted that it was the fifth anniversary of a lone-wolf massacre in Norway that claimed the lives of 77 people. The bomb and gun attacks there were carried out by a right-wing extremist.

Update 4:41pm EDT:

Nine people have been killed, the police have confirmed, and one of the deceased may be a gunman.

And unconfirmed video circulating on social media purports to show one shooter standing on a roof shouting "I am German," leading many to speculate that the attacks may have come from right-wing nationalists.

Update 3:34pm EDT:

The number of people killed has climbed to seven, reports Sueddeutsche Zeitung, according to the local police.

The police say that they are searching for three perpetrators, and the entire city is their search area, according to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

A city spokesperson told reporters that there is no indication that the shootings are linked to Muslim extremism, as many have speculated in both German and American media.

President Obama has pledged support for Germany in the wake of the attack.

Update 2:23pm EDT:

Sueddeutsche Zeitung reports that police have confirmed eyewitness accounts of shootings elsewhere in Munich. Shots were reported in the city's pedestrian zone and near the Jagdmuseum. The newspaper writes that multiple police are en route to the area, armed with machine guns.

The police have asked everyone in Munich to stay at home and take shelter.

Under the hashtag #offenetür ("open door"), Munich residents are letting people know their homes are open for anyone nearby to seek shelter:

Earlier:

At least three people were shot and killed, with multiple others wounded, in a mass shooting at a shopping mall in Munich, Germany, late Friday afternoon. Police are reportedly in pursuit of perpetrators, and the situation is ongoing.

A witness interviewed by Germany's Die Welt said that a man who was "dressed oddly" suddenly started shooting in a McDonald's filled with people, and then calmly walked out of the restaurant and continued firing.

A video posted to YouTube purports to show cell phone footage of the shooting.

The spokeswoman for the Munich police told the media:

We believe we are dealing with a shooting rampage.

We believe there was more than one perpetrator. The first reports came at 6 pm, the shooting apparently began at a McDonald's in the shopping center. There are still people in the shopping center. We are trying to get the people out and take care of them.

Die Welt reported that multiple people were lying prone on the floor, many dead and wounded, when rescue workers entered the building.

The shooter or shooters escaped on the subway, and police reportedly remain in pursuit. A tweet from the Munich police department warns the public that it does not know where the attackers are and asks people to avoid public places:

The chief of police told reporters, "This is a major situation." A large police presence remains outside of the shopping mall.

As Common Dreams has noted, Germany has extremely tough gun laws, and mass shootings in the country are rare.

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