German politicians have signalled that they will review the country’s gun laws, after a troubled 18-year-old was able to use a 9mm handgun and amass 300 rounds of ammunition in a shooting that left nine dead in Munich.
Mourners wept, laid flowers and lit candles in front of the city’s Olympia shopping centre as vigils continued on Sunday for the nine people gunned down by Ali Sonboly on Friday evening. Most of his victims were teenagers.
Twenty-seven others were hurt in the attack. Ten remain in a critical condition, including a 13-year-old boy, and officials have warned that the death toll could rise.
Officials said Sonboly, the German-born son of Iranian refugees, used a Glock 17 handgun, which had had its serial number illegally filed off. They said he had 300 rounds of ammunition in his rucksack when he went on what they called a “classic shooting rampage”.
The question now being asked in Germany is how Sonboly, who was described as a troubled loner, could have got his hands on such a deadly weapon. The interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, has already signalled a debate on tightening gun control.
The deputy chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, also called for more restrictions on access to guns. Germany has the world’s fourth-highest rate of legal gun ownership but it is believed that Sonboly, who had no criminal record but had been in psychiatric care and was treated for depression, bought his weapon on the black market.
Gabriel, who leads the junior party in the governing coalition, the centre-left Social Democrats, told the Funke Mediengruppe news group: “We must continue to do all we can to limit and strictly control access to deadly weapons.”
At state level, the Bavarian interior minister, Joachim Herrmann, has tried to reignite debate over whether soldiers could be deployed in response to similar events in the future – a contentious issue in Germany.
After searching Sonboly’s family home, police have said the killings were not terrorist-related. However, Munich’s police chief, Hubertus Andrae, has said Sonboly was obsessed with “shooting rampages” and had an interest in the far-right mass murderer Anders Breivik.
Sonboly launched his massacre in Munich on the fifth anniversary of Breivik’s slaughter of 77 mostly young people across Oslo and at a secluded youth camp. Sonboly had used Breivik’s face as his WhatsApp profile picture, according to Germany’s Bild newspaper.
Neighbours have said that he was unpopular and often bullied by others.“He seemed to have hardly any friends,” said one 14-year-old who lived in the same block as Sonboly, and had known him at school. She had seen Sonboly as he delivered newspapers on Friday, before he went on the rampage.
“He usually says ‘Hi’ to me, because I do know him,” she said. “But when I greeted him he didn’t say a word to me and seemed strange and withdrawn.”
There are claims that Sonboly may have deliberately targeted youngsters of Turkish and Arab origin, groups he apparently felt had picked on him at school. Among the dead were two 14-year-old Kosovan girls, Armela Segashi and Sabina Sulaj, and their Turkish friends Can Leyla, 14 and Selcuk Kilic, 15, according to reports.
A 17-year-old named in reports as Hussein Daitzik, of Greek origin, is said to have been shot dead as he shielded his sister. Another youngster, named locally as Gulliano Kollman, 18, reportedly died after being shot outside the McDonald’s where Sonboly began his rampage.
On Saturday afternoon, Naim Zabergja, a policeman of Kosovan heritage, visited the scene to lay flowers where his son, Dijamant, 21, was killed. According to reports the oldest victim of the killer was Sevda Dag, a 45-year-old Turkish woman.
The chancellor, Angela Merkel, said the tragedy had plunged Germany into “deep and profound mourning”. The events were “difficult to bear for everyone”, Merkel said as she pledged to “find out the background” of what happened.
“What lies behind the people of Munich is a night of horror – we are still shocked by the pictures and reports of the witnesses,” she said.
The chancellor described the operation between the agencies and security forces on Friday night as “seamless” and thanked them for their “phenomenal” effort.
She said: “We are in deep and profound mourning for those who will never return to their families. The families, siblings, friends to whom everything will be void and empty today. I would like to tell them, in the name of many, many people in Germany, we share in your grief, we think of you and we are suffering with you.
“Our thoughts also go out to the numerous injured people – may they recover quickly and completely. They will receive all the support they need. Such an evening and such a night are difficult to bear for every one of us. They are even more difficult to bear because we have had so many different and difficult reports of horrors in the past few days.”
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