A gunman said to be motivated by far-right extremism killed nine people in two attacks on shisha bars Wednesday in Hanau, a German city of 95,000.
Police have not confirmed the shooter’s identity, but German media has reported that 43-year-old Tobias Rathjen allegedly opened fire on the bars before going home and killing his mother and himself.
“It is still too early for a final evaluation,” German chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday. “But at present there is much evidence that the perpetrator acted out of right-wing extremist, racist motives. Out of hatred against people of other origins, other beliefs or other outward appearances. Racism is a poison, hatred is a poison.”
The gunman began his rampage at the Midnight bar in the center of Hanau. He then drove roughly a mile and a half to the Arena Bar & Cafe and killed more people. Both bars are popular with young Kurdish and Turkish people in Hanau.
Federal prosecutor Peter Frank said at a press conference that all of the victims are of a “migrant background” and Turkey’s ambassador to Berlin has said that five of them were Turkish citizens.
Police launched a manhunt to find the killer after the attacks and tracked Rathjen to his home, where they found the suspect and his mother dead. They also found evidence of his right-wing extremism. “On the home page of the suspected attacker were posted video messages and a sort of manifesto that, in addition to confused thoughts and abstruse conspiracy theories, displayed deeply racist convictions,” Frank said.
The Guardian has quotes from a manifesto uploaded to Rathjen’s personal website:
[T]here are lengthy passages in which Rathjen rails against ethnic minorities in Germany and announces that people of certain African, Asian and Middle Eastern origins have to be “completely annihilated” within the country.
“If there was a button available that would make this become a reality, I would press it in a flash,” he writes. Rathjen claims to have arrived at his belief from personal experiences at school and work, as well as reading newspaper reports of fights between Germans and “foreigners”.
He also mentions an act of “war”, which he says would be aimed as a “double blow” against the secret organisation he believes is watching over him and the “degeneration of the people”.
Germany’s gun laws are very strict and became even more so last year after a spate of right-wing extremist attacks. Authorities in Hanau have said the shooter was licensed to own a gun.