Munich shooting: Nine dead in Olympia shopping centre rampage as police say shooter fled and killed himself
An 18-year-old Iranian from Munich is thought to have been the gunman who shot nine dead and injured up to 21 others before killing himself, police in the city said
At least nine people were brutally murdered in Munich on Friday night, in a shooting which brought bloodshed once more to Europe.
Eyewitnesses say a man opened fire at a McDonald’s restaurant outside the Olympia shopping centre (OEZ) in the southern German city shortly before 6pm local time. At least nine victims were killed and 21 others injured, some of them critically. The dead, so far unnamed, included adolescents and the injured children.
The body of the suspected gunman was later found 1km away from the scene and police say they believe he may have died by suicide. The police identified him as an 18-year-old Iranian from the city.
"We can give a cautious 'all-clear signal.' It looks like the body found near the OEZ was the gunman," a police spokesman told reporters.
It is feared more fatalities may come as several of those injured are understood to be seriously wounded.
Munich remained in lockdown after the attack as an extensive police operation remained underway. Authorities said they believe the man was acting alone, contrary to early indications, based on eye witness reports, that up to three attackers may have been involved. Police said that two people who fled the scene were investigated but had "nothing to do with the incident".
It is thought many of the victims may be children and young people, who were sitting in the restaurant when the gunman struck. One eyewitness said: “I came out of the toilet and I heard, like an alarm, ‘boom, boom, boom’. He was killing the children. They were sitting to eat. They couldn’t run.”
The motive for the attack remains unclear and no organisations or individuals have claimed responsibility yet. One eye witness claimed the man shouted “Allahu Akbar”, while unverified footage posted to social media appeared to show the gunman on a car park roof shouting to onlookers “I am German” and stating he had grown up in a nearby social housing area.
Angela Merkel's chief of staff, Peter Altmeier said it was not possible to rule out a terrorist connection at this stage.
He said: "We aren't ruling out any possibility. I was in close contact with the Bavarian interior minister all afternoon and evening. The Chancellor is being kept up to date at all times everything we know and can say so far is that this was an inhuman, cruel attack.
"Our thoughts are with the victims of this attack. We can't rule out a terrorist connection, we can't confirm this but we investigate in this direction as well."
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the motive for the attack was not yet clear.
"The motives for this abhorrent act have not yet been completely clarified - we still have contradictory clues," Mr Steinmeier said in a statement.
The horror is the latest in a series of deadly mass attacks in recent times. It follows bloodshed in Nice, Istanbul, Brussels and Paris.
Earlier this week, three people were seriously injured after a teenager attacked passengers on a train in Munich using an axe. Isis claimed responsibility for the attack, which was carried out by a youth from Afghanistan. The 17-year-old was shot dead by police.
Bavaria’s interior minister Joachim Herrmann said he was an asylum seeker who had come to Germany as an unaccompanied minor and had been staying with a foster family “for a few months.”
Munich has been on high alert following the axe attack and extra security measures had been in place.
Leaders around the world have expressed their shock following the shooting and pledged support for Germany as the country seeks to ascertain the facts and bring the perpetrators to justice. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson tweeted: “I am deeply shocked and saddened by Munich shootings. My thoughts are with the victims, their loved ones and all Germany at this time.”
Addressing a White House meeting, US President Barack Obama said: “We don't yet know exactly what's happening there, but obviously our hearts go out to those who may have been injured.”
“We are going to pledge all the support they may need.”
Amid the horror, Munich locals expressed solidarity by offering sanctuary to thousands of people stranded on the streets as transport links shut down due to security measures. Residents used the hashtag #OffeneTür meaning ‘Open Door’ to offer their homes or businesses as places to stay.
Mosques in the city remained open overnight, accepting people with nowhere to stay and offering support for those traumatised by events or still searching for loved ones.
Germany’s security council is due to hold an emergency meeting today to address the shootings, led by Chancellor Merkel.
Northern Ireland holidaymaker describes panic
A Northern Ireland holidaymaker was caught up in the chaos.
Jerome Burns, who is on holiday with his wife, was in a railway station when news of the shootings broke.
"We were buying train tickets when suddenly there was a massive alert," he told the BBC.
"People were running all over the place.
"We were all bundled out, down a back door into the bottom of the railway station, where we were kept for about half an hour.
"The station, at that stage, was closed - all the public transport was closed - and we were told to get back to our hotel as quickly as we could.
"We didn't really understand what was being said.
"It was really manic coming out of the station, police everywhere, stations absolutely evacuated, ambulances and lights all over the place."
Mr Burns said he and the other guests were "in a state of shock".
Independent News Service