Munich teen gunman researched mass shootings, was treated for depression

Police have since concluded that the 18-year-old, Munich-born shooter acted alone and there was no connection to Islamist groups like al-Qaeda or Islamic State.
July 23, 2016, 4:15pm
Special forces police officers stand guard at an entrance of the main train station, following a shooting rampage at the Olympia shopping mall in Munich, Germany July 22, 2016. (Michael Dalder/Reuters)

The gunman who opened fire at at a shopping mall in Munich had a fixation with mass shootings and was inspired by Anders Behring Breivik, a far-right terrorist and mass murderer from Norway, German authorities said on Saturday. 10 people were killed and 27 injured, ten critically, including a 13-year-old boy.

Robert Heimberger, a police investigator, said that 18-year-old German-Iranian Ali Sonboly posed as a young woman on Facebook to invite people to McDonald's with the promise of free food.


"I'll give you something if you want," Sonboly reportedly wrote, "but not too expensive."

Sonboly first opened fire at a McDonald's restaurant at around 4:40pm local time on Friday. Video footage from the scene shows Sonboly shooting at people as they try to run away.

Eyewitness video shows gunman at — Voice of America (@VOANews)July 22, 2016

Sonboly then continued shooting at the nearby Olympia shopping center. In the chaotic aftermath, German police believed they were hunting as many as three shooters who were at large, leading to a tense, hours-long manhunt, triggering a city-wide lockdown.

Police have since concluded that the Munich-born Sonboly, who was found dead after apparently committing suicide, acted alone, and there was no connection to violent radical Islamist groups like al-Qaeda or Islamic State.

'We are talking about a sole perpetrator," Munich Police President Hubertus Andrae said at a news conference on Saturday. "Based on the searches, there are no indications whatsoever that there is a connection to Islamic State," or to the issue of migration, he added.

Related: Teen gunman kills 9 people in Munich attack

Sonboly's parents emigrated from Iran before he was born. Among his victims were three Turkish citizens.

In the last nine days, Europe has been rattled by two separate attacks claimed by the Islamic State — one at a Bastille Day celebration in Nice and another on a train in Bavaria, Germany. When news of the shooting first broke, many feared IS was behind this attack too.


Instead, rather than being politically motivated, evidence so far aligns Sonboly with the mentally disturbed mass shooter type as seen in the US. Police reportedly found a German translation of the book "Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters," by academic Peter Langman in Sonbaly's bedroom. Langman attempts to delve into the complex psychology of a school shooter and hypothesizes that they tend to fall into three distinct categories: psychopathic, psychotic, or traumatized.

Police say the Munich-born gunman had been receiving treatment for depression.

Here's book found in — Jamie Grierson (@JamieGrierson)July 23, 2016

"Documents on shooting sprees were found so the perpetrator obviously researched this subject intensively," Munich Police President Hubertus Andrae said.

Friday was also the five-year anniversary of the massacre carried out by Anders Behring Breivik in Norway.

Breivik murdered 77 people in Norway on 22 July 2011, first in a bombing in the capital Oslo that killed eight. He then traveled to a summer camp for young left-of-center political activists on the island of Utoeya, where he killed another 69 people.

Breivik held radical right-wing views and said he hoped his attack would help stop Muslims from immigrating to Europe. Now 37, he is imprisoned in Norway.

Follow Tess Owen on Twitter: @misstessowen