An 18-year-old German-Iranian man who opened fire in a crowded shopping mall in Munich, killing nine people Friday evening, apparently was the only gunman involved in an incident that caused a major security scare and brought life to a standstill for residents of Germany’s third largest city.
The teenager committed suicide, shooting himself in the head in the midst of the havoc he caused, Munich Police Chief Hubertus Andrae said early Saturday. There was no word on what triggered the young man’s attack, and Andrae said it was premature to judge whether the multiple shootings were a terrorist attack.
The Munich shooting rampage killed nine people, plus the gunman, and wounded 16 others, three critically. Children were among the wounded. It marked the third major attack on civilians in Western Europe in eight days.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi condemned the attack in a statement, saying “today, fighting against terrorism, in any form and anywhere, is an urgent demand of the world community.” He added that “killing innocent and defenseless people has turned into a shame on the history of mankind.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called an emergency meeting of her security council to address the deadly incident.
The shootings were an “inhuman, cruel attack,” and terrorist motives cannot be ruled out, according to Merkel’s chief of staff, Peter Altmaier. Cabinet ministers were to travel to Berlin later Saturday for the security meeting.
Police chief Andrae said all security restrictions imposed Friday evening have now been lifted. He told reporters at a Saturday morning news conference that investigators concluded the German-Iranian teenager was the lone gunman based on an intensive review of video from security cameras that monitor all activity in the area where the shootings took place – at a McDonald’s restaurant and in the nearby Olympia shopping mall.
Rumors that swept through Munich about a trio of attackers shooting civilians with rifles all were false, the police chief said.
Investigators have been trying to determine how many shots the 18-year-old gunman fired, Andrae said, but that effort will take time because of the large area that became a shooting scene.
President Barack Obama expressed sorrow over the casualties when he appeared at a meeting of law enforcement officials, saying, “Our hearts go out to those who may have been injured.” The president pledged all possible support to Germany, one of the United States’ closest allies.
For hours after the attacks on Friday afternoon, Munich was in “an acute terror situation,” authorities said, and a manhunt was underway throughout Germany’s third-largest city.
Eyewitness video showed a man brandishing a long gun outside a McDonald’s restaurant. As the gunman raised his weapon and trained it on a nearby crowd, the camera operator fled, but the sound of rapid gunfire was heard.
An American bystander in Munich who declined to give his name told VOA he was at a train station when the shooting began.
“Initially it was pretty, pretty scary at the train station,” the man said. “People just started rushing in once the activity was happening outside.”
The American said fear spread through the people in the train station, and then it fell silent outside. “Everybody rushed back” into the station at that point to find safety, he continued, even though the station already had been shut as a security precaution. All rail systems were suspended during the emergency.