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Nine Dead From Lone Gunman's Rampage In Munich

  • RFE/RL

Police suspended their hunt for suspects in a shooting rampage that left at least nine people dead at a shopping mall in the German city of Munich after concluding that a lone gunmen who later killed himself was responsible.

City authorities early on July 23 ended their state of emergency and gave a "cautious all clear" to panicked Munich residents who had been urged to stay indoors and avoid crowds as 2,300 law enforcement officers swept the city for what they believed were up to three gunmen.

What is now the sole suspect was found dead about 1 kilometer from the Olympia Einkaufszentrum shopping center where the killings occurred, apparently shot in the head by his own hand, police said.

"As part of our manhunt we found a person who had killed himself -- the person is likely to have been the attacker who, according to the current state of the investigation, acted alone," Munich police tweeted.

The man was identified as an 18-year-old German-Iranian from Munich. Authorities said his motive was not known.

Police raised the number of people killed by the gunmen to nine, including one who died of injuries later in a hospital. At least 21 people also were injured in the rampage.

Police said up to 100 people witnessed the attack

Police were investigating a red backpack found near the dead man for explosives.

It was the third major act of violence against civilians in Western Europe in eight days. The previous attacks, in the French resort city of Nice and on a train in Bavaria, were claimed by the Islamic State group.

Police initially treated the Munich attack as a terrorist incident.

A screen grab taken from video footage shows plain clothes police officers taking cover in the car park of the Olympia shopping mall.

A screen grab taken from video footage shows plain clothes police officers taking cover in the car park of the Olympia shopping mall.

"I had no idea where to run, no time to think where to go, I just started running with everyone, running on the road, even though there were cars on the road, it was quite chaotic,” Fabian Burkhardt, a 31-year-old doctoral student, told RFE/RL.

Burkhardt was at Karlsplatz square in the city center, where he said he saw hundreds of people screaming and running in every direction.

“Scared is definitely the right word. I had this sense of panic, but then after several meters, I tried to think about, tried to think that it’s not the right moment to panic.”

The Olympia shopping center (file photo)

The Olympia shopping center (file photo)

German President Joachim Gauck condemned the "murderous attack in Munich," adding that he feels "connected to those who are in the field to protect people and save lives."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet with her security council on July 23, her chief of staff Peter Altmaier said, with the country's interior minister cancelling a vacation in New York to return to address the crisis.

"You can only have absolute security in an absolute surveillance state, and nobody wants that, it would be the opposite of our free western European way of life," Altmeier said, but "we are determined to do everything we can so that terror and inhuman violence stand no chance in Germany."

The White House condemned "in the strongest terms" the attack. "We do know that this heinous act has killed and injured multiple individuals in the heart of one of Europe's most vibrant cities," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a statement.

Munich police spokesman Thomas Baumann told Germany’s dpa news agency that the attack began at the McDonald's fast food restaurant near the shopping center shortly before 18:00 local time.

Video from German news agency NonstopNews showed two bodies with sheets draped over them not far from a McDonald's across from the mall.

A video posted online, whose authenticity could not be confirmed, showed a man dressed in black outside a McDonalds restaurant by the roadside, drawing a handgun and shooting at people.

The Bild newspaper reported that the gunman ran through the shopping center near the Olympic stadium, firing on people before escaping in the direction of a metro station.

Police closed off a large area around the shopping center after the shooting.

Television images showed dozens of emergency vehicles outside the shopping center.

Munich transport authorities said they had halted several bus, train, and tram line during the search for suspects, but later reopened public transit after concluding the rampage was the act of a lone gunmen.

WATCH: Eyewitness captures shooting

With reporting by Reuters, dpa, AP and AFP
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