Munich shooter not linked to IS, but was obsessed with mass murder: Cops

  • Agencies, Berlin
  • Updated: Jul 24, 2016 01:41 IST
Police officers secure the area around a McDonald restaurant near the shopping mall Olympia Einkaufzentrum OEZ in Munich on July 23, a day after a gunman went on a shooting rampage, killing nine people. (AFP Photo)

Police on Saturday said there were absolutely no indications that the young German-Iranian man who opened fire on shoppers in Munich had any connection to the terrorist group Islamic State. Instead, it appeared that he was obsessed with mass shootings.

“Based on the searches, there are no indications whatsoever that there is a connection to Islamic State,” or to the issue of refugees, Munich police chief Hubertus Andrae told a news conference.

“Documents were found about mass shootings. The perpetrator was obviously obsessed with the issue,” he added.

An 18-year-old local opened fire at a crowded Munich shopping mall and fast-food restaurant, gunning down nine people and wounding 16 others before killing himself. This was the third attack on civilians in Europe in just over a week, following an axe rampage on a train in Bavaria and the truck attack in the French Riviera of Nice.

Read more | German-Iranian gunman kills 9 in Munich shopping mall, commits suicide

Investigators searched the unnamed young man’s home overnight and found a considerable amount of 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 the Islamic State. They believe he acted alone.

Police had initially believed that there were three perpetrators.

Shooter may have lured his victims

Robert Heimberger, the head of Bavaria’s criminal police, said it appeared the shooter 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 4 pm (1400 GMT), 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. The woman shortly after reported that her account had been hacked.

Initial investigations suggest the Munich-born suspect had suffered from psychological problems and received treatment, but details were still being confirmed, said Munich prosecutor Thomas Steinkraus-Koch.

Read | Munich mall shooting: Everything we know till now

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 6 pm (1600 GMT). Eight hours later police declared a “cautious all clear,” saying the suspect was among the 10 dead and that he had likely acted alone.

Clarifying that the incident appeared to be an isolated incident, Andrae said there was no reason not to visit Munich or to cancel events for security reasons.

Teen was obsessed with mass murderer

The unidentified was “deranged”, police said on Saturday, linking his actions to Norwegian far-right mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik rather than Islamic State jihadists.

The shooting coincided with the fifth anniversary of the massacre by Breivik in Norway in which he killed 77 people. A hero for far-right militants in Europe and America, Breivik is serving a maximum 21-year sentence -- which can be extended if he is still considered dangerous.

Further, the Munich mall is near the stadium for the 1972 Olympics and the athletes’ village which was the site of the hostage-taking and massacre of Israeli athletes by the Palestinian Black September group during the Games.

‘He was a quiet, shy guy’

At an address on Munich’s Dachauer Strasse that was searched by police early on Saturday, a neighbour described the suspect as “very quiet.”

“He only ever said ‘hi’. His whole body language was of somebody who was very shy,” said Stephan, a coffee shop owner who would only give his first name.

“He never came in to the cafe,” he added. “He was just a neighbour and took out the trash but never talked.”

The suspect’s body was found about two-and-a-half hours after the attack with a 9mm Glock pistol and at least 300 rounds of ammunition, police said.

Read | I saw bodies, injured people: A night of terror in Munich

A cell-phone video posted online showed the person filming from a balcony engaging verbally with the suspect, who was dressed in black standing on the rooftop of the mall parking structure. The shooter at one point yells, “I’m German,” to which the filmer responds, “You are a jerk,” and demands to know what he is up to. The shooter yells at him to stop filming, and shortly after begins shooting. Andrae said police believe the video is genuine.

Police have asked anyone with video and photos to upload them directly to their website to aid the investigation.

More on Munich attack here

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