Gunman kills nine in Germany in overnight rampage

Police and paramedics work at a crime scene after two shootings in Hanau, near Frankfurt, on 20 February 2020. [EPA-EFE/HEIKO HAHNENSTEIN]

A suspected right-wing extremist shot nine people dead in two shisha bars in an overnight rampage through a German city on Wednesday night (19 February) before, police believe, returning home and killing himself.

Federal prosecutors said they had taken charge of investigations into the attack – which happened late on Wednesday in Hanau, east of Frankfurt – due to indications it had an extremist motive.

Newspaper Bild said the suspect had expressed far-right views in a written confession.

In shisha bars, customers share flavoured tobacco from a communal hookah, or water pipe. In Western countries, they are often owned and operated by people from the Middle East or South Asia, where the use of the hookah is a centuries-old tradition.

Some of those killed were of Turkish origin, a spokesman for the Turkish presidency said. “We expect German authorities to show maximum effort to enlighten this case. Racism is a collective cancer,” Ibrahim Kalin said on Twitter.

Police could not immediately be reached for comment on the Bild report.

Meanwhile, police said on Thursday the suspected gunman had been found dead at his home. Another body was discovered at the home of the man in Hanau, a city east of the financial hub of Frankfurt where the shootings happened.

“There are no indications that other suspects were involved,” police said in a statement. “One of the two dead people found is highly likely the perpetrator. The investigations into the identity of the victims and the perpetrator are ongoing.”

Bild, Germany’s biggest-selling daily newspaper, said without citing a source that the suspect also left a video claiming responsibility. Bild said the man was a German citizen and that ammunition and gun magazines were found in his car. He had a firearms hunting licence, it added.

Police raised the death toll to nine after one person succumbed to injuries. Their information suggested the gunman had committed suicide at his home after fleeing in a dark car, but the motive for the attacks is unclear.

Can-Luca Frisenna, whose father and brother run one of the two bars attacked by the gunman, said he had rushed to the scene after he received news of the shooting.

“I heard my father was affected and my little brother, they run the kiosk, I don’t have much to do with it,” Frisenna said. “But then I saw them both – they were horrified and they were crying and everything. So everyone was shocked.”

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert tweeted: “Deep sympathy goes out to the families concerned, who are mourning the loss of their dead. With the injured, we hope they will soon recover.”

Last October, an anti-Semitic gunman who denounced Jews opened fire outside a German synagogue on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, and killed two people as he livestreamed his attack.

Subscribe to our newsletters

Subscribe

Want to know what's going on in the EU Capitals daily? Subscribe now to our new 9am newsletter.