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World

Munich Mourns Mass Shooting Victims While Police Search For A Motive

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now to Germany which is in mourning after a mass shooting yesterday at a shopping mall in Munich. Nine people were killed - many of them teenagers - and more than two dozen were injured by an 18-year-old gunman who later took his own life. As NPR's Daniel Estrin reports, residents and the authorities are trying to figure out his motives.

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: Sebastian Schieder and his girlfriend laid a bouquet today at a makeshift memorial for the victims. Schieder is a 23-year-old firefighter who was among the thousands of emergency responders dispatched to the scene of the attack. He says his paramedic colleague was treating a 13-year-old boy lying in a pool of blood when an officer yelled that the gunman might be coming back.

SEBASTIAN SCHIEDER: What do you do - get the patient and go out or save your life? That's the thing. What do you do?

ESTRIN: He says his colleague ran and is now tormented by the choice. Schieder says the attack on Munich felt like an attack on the whole country.

SCHIEDER: Germany is Bavaria - Lederhosen, Oktoberfet and beer. Now there's like - you see it. Like, everybody in Munich comes here and just get - lay some flowers. And I saw many things in my life, but that's something that's shocks me very.

ESTRIN: Just a few days before, an asylum seeker wounded five people with an axe and knife elsewhere in Bavaria. Authorities believe he was influenced by radical Islam. But they say yesterday's attacker was different. Police Commissioner Hubertus Andra says investigators searching his home found a book and newspaper clippings about mass shootings, but nothing about extremist groups like the so-called Islamic State.

HUBERTUS ANDRA: There is no information and no investigation situation that there is a connection for IS. It's, at this time, an act of shooting persons on roads and streets.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (Speaking German).

ESTRIN: After opening fire on people yesterday, the gunman, who still hasn't been officially named, ran to the roof of a parking garage where he and a man on a nearby apartment balcony started shouting at each other. When the onlooker called the teenager a derogatory name for a foreigner, the teenager shouted back.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (Speaking German).

ESTRIN: Ich bin Deutscher. I'm a German. Officials say he was the son of Iranian immigrants, and people here are wondering if that might have influenced his actions.

One of the people standing under the rain at the memorial thinks there could be a link. Thomas Strey teaches children from immigrant backgrounds in Munich, and he says many grow up feeling alienated from society.

THOMAS STREY: We failed in this. This is not - we succeed not in this. And this is a big problem because you have this feeling of many of immigrants in the second and third generations. We are the loser.

ESTRIN: The German authorities say they haven't been able to get much information yet from the gunman's parents. It's completely understandable, the police commissioner told reporters, they're in no state to be questioned. Daniel Estrin, NPR News, Munich. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.