Munich: A teenage German-Iranian gunman has killed nine people in a shooting rampage at a busy Munich mall and then committed suicide with the German police saying today that he likely acted alone.
The third attack on civilians in Europe in barely a week sent panicked shoppers fleeing the Olympia mall as elite police launched a massive operation to track down what had initially been thought to be up to three assailants.
“The perpetrator was an 18-year-old German-Iranian from Munich,” police chief Hubertus Andrae told reporters after the rampage.
The shooter had dual citizenship and “no criminal record”. “The motive or explanation for this crime is completely unclear,” he added.
However, a police spokesman in the Bavarian capital had said earlier that terrorism was suspected, without revealing any immediate indications of an Islamist link.
Armed with a handgun, the attacker opened fire at a McDonald’s restaurant early last evening and continued in the street before entering the Olympia mall, killing nine people and wounding 16 in his rampage, according to the latest toll.
“There were youths among the dead,” Andrae said, adding that some of those injured were children. A police patrol had shot and wounded the attacker but he had managed to escape, he said.
The suspected attacker’s body was later found about one kilometre from the mall where the shootings took place, German DPA news agency reported.
“We found a man who killed himself. We assume that he was the only shooter,” police said on Twitter. A video posted on social media appeared to show a man dressed in black walking away from a McDonald’s while firing repeatedly on people as they fled screaming.
Munich’s main train station was evacuated and metro and bus transport in the city suspended for several hours while residents were ordered to stay inside, leaving the streets largely deserted. By early this morning, transport services were running again, Munich police said.
Chancellor Angela Merkel will convene her security council today to address the deadly rampage in the European economic powerhouse which took in more than one million migrants and refugees last year.
“We are determined to do everything we can so that terror and inhuman violence stand no chance in Germany,” her chief of staff Peter Altmaier said.
The spree began before 1600 GMT (2030 IST) at the McDonald’s and continued on a nearby street before the attacker moved into the Olympia centre — which lies not far from the scene of the 1972 Olympics massacre.
Shoppers rushed away from the mall, some carrying children in their arms, as the building was surrounded by armed police and emergency vehicles, while helicopters buzzed overhead.