What was initially said to be a coordinated attack killing 9 and wounding 27, involving up to three gunmen has since been attributed to a lone, 18-year-old German-born male student with both German and Iranian citizenship, identified moments ago as David Ali Sonboly. As authorities try to piece together the motive behind the latest mass killing, the third one in Europe in the past 9 days, and one which targeted mostly other young people, the emerging picture is that of a mentally disturbed young man with an obssession for killing sprees, and who had undergone psychiatric treatment.
German ARD said that there are “no indications” so far that the gunman was motivated by religious or political views.
The gunman was not a refugee, Munich police chief Hubertus Andrae told a news conference on Saturday. He added that the gunman shot dead nine people and then committed suicide with a 9mm Glock semi-automatic pistol, and that 300 rounds were found in his backpack. The victims’ ages were 15, 15, 14, 14, 14, 17, 19, 20, and 45, the latter of whom was female.
The gunman had been receiving psychiatric and medical care to help him cope with depression, but there is no information on his psychiatric status, the police said adding that it will take some time to find out if he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. His body was found about 1km (half a mile) from the mall.
The first alleged picture of David Ali Sonbolul was released moments ago by Germany’s Bild.
— Bild München (@BILD_Muenchen) July 23, 2016
Friday evening’s attack at the Olympia shopping mall also left 27 people injured, including children. Seven of the dead were teenagers. Three victims were from Kosovo, three from Turkey and one from Greece.
Unlike the most recent attack which took place in Wuerzburg – also in Bavaria – on Monday, where a 17 year old Afghan refugee attacked train passengers with an axe, and who had left both a suicide note and a video pledging his allegiance to ISIS, this time crime scene investigators have found no evidence pointing to Islamic State-related links in his apartment: “Based on the searches, there are no indications whatsoever that there is a connection to Islamic State.”
However, police officials have linked the Munich shooter’s actions to Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik, who in 2011 killed eight people by detonating a car bomb in the middle of a government block in Oslo and then shot dead 69 participants of a youth summer camp on the island of Utoya.
“He [the shooter] was very much into the theme of killing sprees, therefore being well aware of the Utoya attack. The link is obvious,” Bavarian police chief Andrae told reporters, in answer to a question on whether there was a connection between the Munich mall shooting and Utoya tragedy, which took place exactly five years ago to the day.
Police commandos, armed with night vision equipment and dogs, had raided an apartment in the Munich neighborhood of Maxvorstadt early on Saturday where the German newspaper Bild said the gunman lived with his parents.
Andrae said they retrieved documents related to shooting sprees. There was no suicide note found however, a forensic unit found documents about killing sprees, including a book entitled “Why kids kill” describing the rationale behind school shootings. “Documents on shooting sprees were found so the perpetrator obviously researched this subject intensively,” Andrae said.
— Jamie Grierson (@JamieGrierson) July 23, 2016
Andrae also said there was an “obvious” link between the new attack and Friday’s fifth anniversary of Anders Behring Brevik’s attacks in Norway, when he murdered 77 people. Asked if the shooter had deliberately targeted young people, Munich police chief Andrae said that theory could be neither confirmed or ruled out.
The police said that in an attempt to lure vicitms to the McDonalds restaurant where he launched the attack, the shooter created a bogus Facebook account under the name “Selina Akim,” urging people to come for a food giveaway, according to the Daily Telegraph. “I can buy you something that’s not too expensive,” the shooter wrote. All the victims are from the local area and no tourists or foreigners were hurt in the shooting, the officials told the news conference.
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) July 23, 2016
“The suspect could have been suffering from a depressive disorder,” said Thomas Steinkraus-Koch, head of the Bavarian prosecutor’s office. “The details are being investigated, it’s not to be done overnight as you can see.” He added that “as far as we know he has no criminal record. In 2012 and 2010 he was a victim of an attack – on one occasion he was beaten by three young offenders.”
Bavarian State premier Horst Seehofer said the killings in Munich and Monday’s axe attack in Wuerzburg on Monday should not be allowed to undermine democratic freedoms.
“For the second time in a few days we’ve been shaken by an incomprehensible bloodbath… Uncertainty and fear must not be allowed to gain the upper hand,” a visibly shaken Seehofer told reporters.
He was speaking just over a week after the Bastille Day massacre by a truck driver in Nice. Both the Nice rampage, which killed 84, and the Wuerzburg attack were claimed by Islamic State.
“We are in deep mourning… we share your grief”, said Chancellor Angela Merkel after chairing a meeting of the national security council. Flags are to be flown at half-mast across Germany in mourning.
People could be seen laying flowers and lighting candles outside the mall on Saturday. One placard left there simply asked “Why?”
Witness Luan Zeqiri, who was in the shopping centre, told German broadcaster N-TV the attacker had been wearing military-style boots and a backpack. “I looked in his direction and he shot two people on the stairs,” he said. Mr Zeqiri said he hid in a shop, but when he left, he saw dead and wounded people on the ground.
Police will also have to find out how the 18-year-old got the firearm used in the attack in a country whose gun control system is described by the U.S. Congress Library as being among the most stringent in Europe. “The investigation is still trying to determine where it came from,” Heimberger said, adding that the assailant was not the registered owner of the gun.
* * *