A mass shooting in Germany that left 11 people dead, including the suspected gunman and his mother, appears to have been motivated by racist, right-wing extremist views, authorities said.
The massacre in the Frankfurt suburb of Hanau erupted around 10 p.m. Wednesday at two hookah bars in the city of fewer than 100,000 people.
“Racism is poison, hatred is poison and this poison exists in society and it is to blame for far too many crimes,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday morning. “There are many indications at the moment that the perpetrator acted on right-wing extremist, racist motives, out of hatred towards people of other origins, religions and appearance.”
The mass shooting follows a series of right-right extremist attacks in Germany, including one in October at a synagogue in Halle that left two people dead and the June assassination of pro-migrant politician Walter Lubcke by a suspect with right-wing links who confessed to the murder.
The killing rampage on Wednesday in Hanau, a city about 15 miles east of Frankfurt, was allegedly carried out by a 43-year-old man who authorities would only identify as Tobias R.
The investigation of the shooting is being headed by the German Federal Prosecutor’s Office, officials said.
Investigators are examining a video the suspect posted online in which he allegedly expressed right-wing conspiracy theories, German Public Prosecutor General Peter Frank said at a news conference. He said investigators are also examining documents believed to have been written by the suspect.
“In addition to confused thoughts and conspiracy theories, [the video and writing] shows deeply racist attitudes,” Frank said. “That is why I have taken over the investigation in this case.”
Authorities cautioned that investigators have not established a clear link between the online video and Wednesday’s attack.
While German police said they believe the deceased suspect is the lone person responsible, federal investigators are looking into whether he received support in the attack, adding that they are attempting to clarify the alleged gunman’s background and contacts both in Germany and abroad.
Shots were fired at two separate hookah bars about a mile apart in Hanau, one in the Heumarkt district in the center of the city and the other in Kurt-Schumacher-Platz in the western neighborhood of Kesselstadt, according to a statement from local authorities. The nine people killed in the bar shootings ranged in age from 21 to 44 and were both foreign and German nationals, officials said.
Kemal Aydin, Turkey’s ambassador to Berlin, told reporters that five Turkish nationals were among those killed.
“The heinous attack last night in Hanau, Germany, is a new and grave manifestation of the rising racism and hostility to Islam,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “We extend our condolences to the families of those who lost their lives, especially our citizens, and wish urgent recovery to the injured in this heinous attack.
“It is not possible to consider these incidents as individual attacks anymore,” the statement continues. “The insensitivity shown towards the fight against increasing xenophobia in Europe leads to new attacks every day. It is time to put an end to these attacks. Otherwise, racism and xenophobia will reach more serious levels and lead us to a dangerous situation.
The alleged perpetrator was later found dead at his home by a special police task force. It was there police said they found another dead body they identified as the suspect’s 72-year-old mother.
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Both the suspect and his mother died from gunshot wounds, officials said. A firearm found next to the suspect, according to authorities.
The suspect’s father was found unharmed by police outside the home, officials said.
Witness accounts said a vehicle fled the scene of the shootings, which led authorities to the alleged suspect’s home.
The shooting comes less than three years after an 18-year-old gunman killed nine people at a shopping mall in Munich before taking his own life. Bavarian authorities said the July 2016 attack was “politically motivated” and said the teenage suspect had “radical right-wing and racist views.”
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