Netanyahu sends condolences to Germany after Munich attack
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Netanyahu sends condolences to Germany after Munich attack

PM says Israel stands by ally, day after German-Iranian teen kills 9 people in shooting rampage; police say no IS link

Police officers stand at the entrance of the subway station near the shopping mall Olympia Einkaufzentrum OEZ in Munich on July 23, 2016 a day after a gunman  went on a shooting rampage in the busy shopping center, killing nine people. (AFP PHOTO/DPA/Karl-Josef Hildenbrand)
Police officers stand at the entrance of the subway station near the shopping mall Olympia Einkaufzentrum OEZ in Munich on July 23, 2016 a day after a gunman went on a shooting rampage in the busy shopping center, killing nine people. (AFP PHOTO/DPA/Karl-Josef Hildenbrand)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a message of condolences to Germany on Saturday, a day after a German-Iranian teenager went on a shooting spree in the city of Munich, killing nine people.

“Israel sends its condolences to Germany for the murder of innocent citizens in the tragic shooting attack in Munich on Friday, and wishes those injured a speedy recovery,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

“Israel stands by Germany on this sad day,” the statement went on.

Over two dozen people were injured in the shooting attack.

Angela Merkel, left, and Benjamin Netanyahu at a press conference in Jerusalem in February 2014. (screen capture: Channel 2)
Angela Merkel, left, and Benjamin Netanyahu at a press conference in Jerusalem in February 2014. (screen capture: Channel 2)

The gunman, Ali Sonboly, was a depression-plagued teenager who avidly read books and articles about mass killings and apparently tried to lure young victims to their deaths through a faked Facebook posting, authorities said Saturday.

There is “no evidence” he had links to the Islamic State group, local police chief Hubertus Andrae said Saturday.

Ali Sonboly (Courtesy)
Ali Sonboly (Courtesy)

Munich prosecutors said he had been in psychiatric care and treated for depression. The attack appears to be a “classic shooting rampage” and not terrorism, the prosecutor said. Police said investigators suspect the gunman was “deranged.”

Information from witnesses indicated that Sonboly’s hatred of foreigners might have played a role in the mass shooting, even though he himself was the German-born son of Iranian asylum-seekers.

Most of the dead were youths and all were Munich residents of varied ethnic backgrounds. Hueseyin Bayri, who witnessed one boy’s death, told The Associated Press the shooter screamed a profanity about foreigners and said “I will kill you all” as he pulled the trigger. A video shot of the perpetrator also showed him yelling anti-foreigner slurs.

The 18-year-old high-school student from Munich with Iranian and German citizenship also wounded more than two dozen others Friday night before turning his illegal Glock 17 pistol on himself, ending a shooting rampage that could have become even more tragic.

Police told reporters that a search of the red backpack lying next to his black-clad corpse revealed that the shooter was carrying more than 300 rounds for the 9-millimeter handgun he used to kill his victims.

The filed-off serial numbers of the Glock made it difficult to establish its origin. But investigators said the gunman, identified by German officials only as David S., had no permit to carry it.

One victim was 45, another 20 and the rest were between 14 and 19, Munich police chief Hubertus Andrae said. The fact that most of the dead were so young added to what Chancellor Angela Merkel called “an evening and night of horror.”

Members of a special forces stand near a fast food restaurant where a shooting took place leaving nine people dead the day before on Saturday, July 23, 2016 in Munich, Germany. (AP/Kerstin Joensson)
Members of a special forces stand near a fast food restaurant where a shooting took place leaving nine people dead the day before on Saturday, July 23, 2016 in Munich, Germany. (AP/Kerstin Joensson)

It started as a normal Friday evening. A Munich mall was buzzing with shoppers, and across the street, customers were enjoying a meal at a McDonald’s restaurant.

Earlier that day, the shooter hacked a Facebook account and sent a message inviting people to come to the mall for a giveaway, said Robert Heimberger, the head of Bavaria’s criminal police.

Investigators say they are still looking for a motive for the attack but Munich prosecutor Thomas Steinkraus-Koch noted the gunman apparently was undergoing psychiatric treatment for problems including depression. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said authorities were checking reports the teen may have been bullied by his peers.

Witnesses and a dramatic cell-phone video that police think is genuine indicated the gunman was unstable and disliked foreigners.

The shooter yelled anti-foreigner slurs both at a person verbally sparring with him from a balcony, which was caught on film by a neighbor, and later also inside the mall.

At another point, he yells, “I’m German!” to which the man on the balcony, identified by the Bild newspaper as Thomas Salbey, a 57-year-old construction worker, responds, “You are a jerk!” and demands to know what he is up to, saying “you should be in psychiatric care.” The gunman orders the filming to stop, and shortly after that starts shooting, causing the neighbor filming to duck.

Law enforcement officials think the Munich tragedy could be a copy-cat attack, considering it was carried out on the fifth anniversary of the killing of 77 people by Norwegian right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik, whose victims included dozens of young people.

A search of the shooter’s home overnight revealed a trove of literature about mass killings, including a German-language translation of the English book “Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters.”

De Maiziere said the shooter had researched a 2009 school shooting in Germany as well as the Breivik attack.

“There was material found in the apartment of the suspect that showed a particular interest in shooting sprees,” de Maiziere said.

Merkel called a special meeting Saturday of her government’s security Cabinet and pledged afterward that Germany would “do everything possible to protect the security and freedom of all people,” saying that, in the wake of a train attack near Wuerzburg and the truck attack in Nice, she understood Germans are wondering “Where is safe?”

“Such an evening and such a night is difficult to bear,” she said of the Munich attack. “And it’s even more difficult to bear because we have had so much terrible news in so few days.”

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