Munich (Germany), July 23 (IANS) The teenaged gunman who killed nine persons in a shooting rampage in a Munich shopping centre before turning the gun on himself was obsessed with mass shootings, police officials said on Saturday.
The gunman was identified as 18-year-old Ali David Sonboly, an Iranian, who has been living in Munich for more than two years. At least 16 people were also injured in the Friday evening shooting.
Sonboly posed as a teenage girl called “Selina Akim” on Facebook to lure young victims to their death on Friday, the Telegraph reported.
It appeared that Sonboly had hacked a Facebook account and lured people to the shopping centre with an offer of free food. The post, sent from a young woman’s account, urged people to come to McDonald’s at 4 p.m., saying: “I will give you something if you want, but not too expensive.”
The German-Iranian teenager, who was obsessed with mass shootings, had an “obvious link” to Norwegian right-wing fanatic Anders Behring Breivik, German police said, the BBC reported.
Breivik murdered 77 persons in Norway on 22 July 2011, killing eight with a bomb in the capital Oslo before shooting dead 69 at a summer camp for young centre-left political activists on the island of Utoeya.
Now 37, he is held in solitary confinement in Norway after being sentenced to 21 years in jail in 2012. He recently won an appeal against the tough regime of his incarceration.
Breivik harboured radical right-wing views and said his attack was aimed at stopping Muslim immigration to Europe.
According to the Telegraph, a search of Sonboly’s room had unearthed a document and newspaper clippings about “frenzied attacks” and a book called: “Rampage in Head: Why Students Kill”.
Officials said the investigation revealed no links to the Islamic State, but suggested the attack might have been motivated by Islamist extremism.
Classmates of Sonboly told The Guardian that he had been bullied at school, while neighbours described him as shy and lazy. “At school Ali was often bullied by others and really unpopular,” one of his classmate said. “He was a bit chubby, and he was either by himself or together with one or two people, but he seemed to have hardly any friends.”
Stephan Baumanns, owner of the Treemans bakery and coffee shop below Sonboly’s apartment, told The Guardian: “I saw him every once in a while pass by, he was a very shy guy and tall, about 6ft 2in (1.88m). He wasn’t very sporty, rather a little chubby.”
“He seemed like a lazy guy. He had a job distributing a free newspaper, Munchener Wochenblatt, but I often saw him rather than deliver them, throw them all away into the garbage bin,” Baumanns added.
The teenager had been raised in Munich and was still in full-time education. Police officials said that Sonboly had likely been in psychiatric care and there were indicators he had been treated for depression.
“We are assuming that he may have suffered from depression,” Spokesperson for the Munich Prosecutor, Thomas Steinkraus-Koch said.
“As far as we know he has no criminal record. In 2012 and 2010 he was a victim of an attack – on one occasion he was beaten by three young offenders,” he added, BBC reported.
At least 2,300 police from across Germany and neighbouring Austria were scrambled in response to the attack, which happened less than a week after a 17-year-old Afghan asylum-seeker wounded five people in an axe-and-knife rampage that started on a regional train near the Bavarian city of Wuerzburg.
The Islamic State terrorist group claimed responsibility for the train attack, but police officials have said that Sonboly likely acted alone.
He was carrying a 9mm Glock handgun, and a red rucksack containing 300 rounds of ammunition, police officials said.
The gunman’s body was found in a side street close to the shopping centre at around 9.30 p.m. (local time). The police believed the teenager had committed suicide, although a post-mortem examination was needed to see if he died as a result of officers’ gunfire.