Ten people are dead and 21 others injured—three of them in life-threatening conditions—following a shooting at the Olympia shopping center in Munich, Germany, the Bavarian interior ministry confirmed Friday afternoon. Some of the fatalties were “adolescents,” according to Munich police chief Hubertus Andrae. Children were also among the wounded.
Based on eyewitness accounts, Munich police initially believed that three gunmen armed with “long guns” were responsible for the carnage. They have now confirmed that there was only one shooter—an 18-year-old German national from Iran—and that he was only armed with a handgun. The suspect committed suicide. He had no prior criminal record, Andrae told reporters at a 2 a.m. press conference about the atrocity early Saturday morning.
“The first reports came at 6 p.m., the shooting apparently began at a McDonald’s in the shopping center,” a police statement issued this evening read. “There are still people in the shopping center. We are trying to get the people out and take care of them.”
Via Twitter, Munich police have warned city residents to be “careful, avoid the surrounding of the Olympia Mall, stay in your houses, leave the streets.”
Videos shared on social media show civilians running from the mall, which, in a grim irony, was built on the former site of the 1972 Summer Olympics, infamously disrupted when Palestinian terrorists affiliated with Black September took 11 Israeli athletes hostage before killing them all.
Janek Schmidt, a reporter for The Guardian newspaper, interviewed an eyewitness who had been inside the Olympia shopping center at the time of the shooting. “I suddenly saw everyone running past,” Cansu Muyan told Schmidt. “Then a shopkeeper told us all to leave as quickly as possible so we all started running as well.”
The Munich attack comes just four days after 17-year-old Muhammad Riyad, now believed to have been a Pakistan national posing as an Afghan refugee, wielded an axe on board a train in Würzburg-Heidingsfeld, and injured at least four people before police shot and killed him. A video of Riyad was later released on ISIS’s Amaq News Agency. Holding a knife, he identified himself as a “soldier” of the caliphate and told the camera: “I want to perform a martyrdom operation in Germany. I will slaughter you with this blade and will cut your throats with an axe.”
No terror group has claimed responsibility for the Munich attack. ISIS media channels are silent and in online chat fora, jihadists associated with or loyal to the organization claim to have no idea who the culprit was. By the early morning hours on Saturday, it appeared less and less likely that the terror army was behind the attack, particularly given the Iranian background of the single suspect.
However, Munich police suspect that this is indeed a terrorist attack, even if there is no evidence of Islamist or jihadist motivation.
A video uploaded to Twitter purportedly shows the suspected shooter shouting back and forth on a rooftop with a bystander on a nearby balcony. The bystander calls the shooter “fucking Kanacken,” a German epithet commonly used to refer to Turkish or Middle Eastern foreigners. The shooter responds: “I am a German... born in Germany... in a Hartz IV neighbourhood,” referring to the unemployment benefits program in Germany. “I was in Giesung, I was in treatment there.” It’s unclear what the assailant means by “treatment,” though some have suggested he might have been a psychiatric patient.
Munich police said that they assume that the video is authentic.
—with additional reporting by Nadette De Visser