Wed. Oct 28th, 2020

Racist German shooter investigated for accomplices

The investigation into a deadly gun attack in Hanau is focusing on whether others knew about or helped organise it, Germany’s federal prosecutor says.

The suspect shot dead nine people “of migrant background” at two shisha bars on Wednesday evening. He and his mother were later found dead in his flat.

Peter Frank said material the suspect Tobias R had posted online showed a “deeply racist mindset”.

He had also been influenced by conspiracy theories, Mr Frank said.

Earlier Chancellor Angela Merkel said there were many signs Tobias R, 43, had acted out of racism.

Speaking in Berlin, Mrs Merkel said: “Racism is a poison. Hate is a poison and this poison exists in our society and is already to blame for many crimes.”

Thousands of people have attended vigils in Hanau and cities across Germany.

vigil in Frankfurt
Vigils such as this one in Frankfurt have been held across Germany

Turkey says at least five of the dead were Turkish citizens. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he expected Germany to “throw light on all aspects” of the attack.

What did the prosecutor say?

Mr Frank said six people had also been injured in the attack, one of them seriously.

Shortly after the attacks the suspect and his 72-year-old mother were found in his apartment, both also shot. A gun was found next to the suspect’s body.

Eyewitnesses filmed the aftermath of the shooting

Mr Frank said investigators wanted to establish any links the suspect may have had in Germany or potentially also abroad.

“My sympathies to the loved ones of the victims. I wish the injured a swift recovery. It is a day that will live long in our memory and will motivate our investigations,” Mr Frank said at a short news conference.

What do we know about the attacks?

The shootings took place around 22:00 (21:00 GMT) on Wednesday, and the first target was the Midnight shisha bar in the city centre of Hanau. Witnesses reported hearing about a dozen gunshots.

The suspect then travelled by car to the Kesselstadt neighbourhood, some 2.5km (1.5 miles) away, and opened fire at the Arena Bar & Cafe.

Shisha bars are places where people gather to smoke a pipe known as shisha or hookah. Traditionally found in Middle Eastern and Asian countries, they are also popular in many other parts of the world.

vigil in Hanau
Hanau residents demonstrated against racism

The shootings sparked a manhunt. Police identified the gunman through information from witnesses and surveillance cameras. Early on Thursday, they stormed the suspect’s home, near the scene of the second shooting.

Hanau, in Hesse state, is a city of 100,000 residents about 25km east of Frankfurt.

Who were the victims?

They included German citizens and foreigners aged between 21 and 44, Germany’s federal prosecutor said.

Among the dead were “several victims of Kurdish origin”, the Kon-Med association of Kurds in Germany said, adding that it was “furious” the authorities were not doing more to fight extremism.

A Bosnian and a Bulgarian also died in the attack, those countries’ foreign ministries said.

Ali Can, a German-Turkish anti-racism activist, posted a photo of a friend of his cousin, saying that the friend was among those killed.

Der Bekannte meines Cousins wurde gestern in #Hanau ermordet. Freunde & Cousins trauern mit diesem Foto… Wir können nicht draußen einen friedlichen Abend verbringen, haben Angst um unsere Leben. Was passiert gerade in Deutschland? Wo ist der Schutz? Verdammter #rechterTerror

What do we know about the suspect?

Tobias R had posted videos and a kind of manifesto on his website, Mr Frank said.

In the manifesto he wrote that people from more than 20 countries including Turkey and Israel should be “destroyed”, AFP reported.

London-based German counter-terrorism expert Peter Neumann said the text contained “various, but mostly extreme right views, with a do-it-yourself ideology cobbled together out of parts found on the internet”.

This undated video screen grab shows suspect Tobias R taken from an account purportedly belonging to the suspect
The suspect has been identified as Tobias R

“The pattern is clear, and not at all new,” he added.

In her statement, Mrs Merkel said there were “many indications at the moment that the perpetrator acted on right-wing extremist, racist motives, out of hatred towards people of other origins, religion or appearance”.

Hesse state Interior Minister Peter Beuth said the suspect had not previously been known to the authorities.

The Bild tabloid reports he had a firearms licence, and that ammunition and gun magazines were found in his car.

Claus Schmidt, who runs the Diana Bergen-Enkheim shooting club that Tobias R joined, described him as “totally inconspicuous”.

“There was not a hint of racism or hatred towards foreigners, not even an awkward joke. He was always friendly,” he told Reuters.

Gun laws in Germany are among the most stringent in the world, and were tightened further in recent years after other mass shootings.

%d bloggers like this: