UPDATED, 5:40 PM: Munich police say a man who killed at least nine people in a shooting spree has killed himself. Authorities originally thought there were at least three gunman on the loose, so they put Germany’s third-largest city on lockdown. Now they believe he acted alone and are probing his motive. The manhunt played out for hours on live TV as U.S. cable news networks tapped into European feeds to follow the story.
Police say the 18-year-old gunman, possibly an Iranian-German, killed himself. He is said not to be known to German authorities. A full investigation is under way. The attacks came four days after another attack in southern Germany. A 17-year-old Afghan boy slashed several people with an ax on a train while shouting “Allahu akbar,” then attacked a woman walking her dog before he was killed by local police.
Friday’s shooting started outside a McDonald’s and spread to an adjacent large shopping mall. Networks aired cellphone video of a man in black opening fire with a handgun on people outside the restaurant.
Munich police tweeted this same message in German, English and French at 12:43 PM PT:
But about 10 minutes later, Fox News’ Shepard Smith said: “I got to tell you, this does not appear to be an Isis-related attack; this does not appear to be Islamic. This appears to be neo-Nazi-style right-wing German issues, with the suspect, at least one of them, screaming about foreigners and shooting.” Smith also cited a report by Munich-based Focus magazine that said one shooter yelled that he was German and had grown up there.
CNN, however, earlier quoted an eyewitness as saying: “I hear, like an alarm — boom, boom, boom … and he’s still killing the children. They make nothing, the children were sitting to eat. They can’t run. … I hear, ‘Allahu akbar. Allahu akbar.’ This I know because I’m Muslim too.” The woman also said her son was in the McDonald’s restroom and saw the man loading a gun.
As U.S. cable news networks continued to speculate about motive and responsibility for the attacks, CNN quoted the author of a book about ISIS as saying a defector from the terrorist group told him “two or three months ago that Germany was a likely next target.” But Michael Weiss went on to say: “But Germany has other problems. They have the rise of a far-right ultranationalist fascistic movement coming on the back of a very open-door immigration policy with respect to refugees. It’s sort of like the cantina scene in Star Wars — there’s so many ne’er-do-wells and bad actors who could be responsible for something like this.”
Munich police sent out a pair of ominous tweets at 11:12 AM PT:
The city hosted the 1972 Summer Olympics, which were shattered when 11 members of the Israeli team were taken hostage and later killed by terrorists. The Olympia mall is close to the stadium used for the Games.
President Obama spoke about the situation from the White House earlier: “Our hearts go out to those who may have been injured. It’s still an active situation, and Germany is one of our closest allies, so we are going to pledge all the support that they may need in dealing with their circumstances.”
The U.S. Consulate sent out an emergency message to American citizens:
Media is reporting shots fired at the Olympia shopping mall in Munich, Germany, resulting in casualties. There are subsequent reports of shots fired in other locations in Munich. There is a major police operation underway. Mass transit around the city is also reported to be halted during the police operation. U.S. citizens are advised to shelter in place pending police announcements that the situation is under control. Review your personal security plans; remain aware of your surroundings, and monitor local news stations for updates. Maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security.
Patrick Hipes and Greg Evans contributed to this report.