An 18-year-old German-Iranian gunman who apparently acted alone opened fire near a busy shopping mall in Munich on Friday evening, killing at least nine people in the third attack on civilians in Western Europe in eight days.
The pistol-wielding attacker, identified by Munich Police Chief Hubertus Andrae as a dual national from Munich, was later found dead of a suspected self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Authorities said it was too early to say whether it was a terrorist attack, and said they had no immediate evidence of an Islamist motive.
Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to meet her chief of staff, Peter Altmaier, and Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere and a host of intelligence officials on Saturday to review the incident.
Police, citing witnesses, had initially said they were looking for up to three suspects and were treating the incident as a suspected terrorist attack.
But authorities told a news conference early on Saturday the shooter was believed to have staged the attack alone, opening fire in a fast food restaurant before moving to the mall.
Andrae said authorities did not see similarities to an attack in southern Germany last Monday in which an axe-wielding 17-year-old asylum-seeker killed five people in an incident claimed by the Islamic State group.
Andrae said it was premature to say whether the Friday incident was a terrorist attack, as French President Francois Hollande said, or the work of a deranged person.
Police said they were investigating a video in which the gunman is seen and heard exchanging racial slurs and profanities with another man. “We are trying to determine who said what,” a police spokesman said.
There was no known motive for the shooting in Germany’s third largest city, which went into lockdown with transport halted and highways sealed off immediately after the attack.
U.S. intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said initial reports from their German counterparts indicated no apparent link between the shooter and Islamic State or other militant groups.
It was the third major act of violence against civilians in Europe in eight days. Previous attacks in France and Germany were claimed by Islamic State.
At least 16 people, including several children, were in hospital and three were in critical condition, Andrae said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility but supporters of Islamic State celebrated on social media.
“The Islamic state is expanding in Europe,” read one tweet.
The gunman, whose body was found on a side street near the mall, was not identified but Andrae said he was not previously known to police.
Police commandos, armed with night vision equipment and dogs, raided an apartment in the Munich neighborhood of Maxvorstadt early on Saturday where the German newspaper Bild said the gunman lived with his parents.
“He lived right next to me,” Bild quoted a neighbor as saying. “A friend of mine went to school with him and said he was rather a quiet guy. He recognized him from the videos from the scene.”
The men had notified police about their suspicion three hours before the police raid.