MUNICH (AP) — It was the beginning of a typical Friday night out. Crowds streamed through Munich’s glass-and-concrete Olympia Shopping Mall, while across the street, a mostly young crowd relaxed in a McDonald’s restaurant.
Then the first shots rang out.
On Saturday, the buzz was replaced by silence. Instead of shoppers, kids hanging out or older folks sitting in arm chairs, the mall was empty, except for police and white-clad cleanup crews wiping away traces of a shooting spree that left nine victims dead and an 18-year-old gunman dead from an apparent suicide. Over two dozen more were injured.
Police barriers remained up for most of the day. Outside, nearby residents from high-rise apartment buildings behind the mall left candles and flowers. Witnesses lingered hours after the end of the tragedy, apparently in disbelief at what had happened. Many appeared to be in shock, and some cried as they mourned young victims they did not know but saw die.
The shooter was a dual Iranian-German national born in Germany after his parents sought asylum there. But witnesses said he shouted anti-foreigner slurs as he pulled the trigger.
The mall was built in a sleepy suburban part of Munich with a high immigrant population. Eight of the nine dead were from 14 to 20 years old. All were Munich residents of various ethnic backgrounds.
Hueseyin Bayri, who witnessed one teenager’s death, said the shooter screamed a profanity about foreigners, adding “I will kill you all” as he pulled the trigger. A video shot of the perpetrator also showed him yelling anti-foreigner slurs.
“I was exactly at the spot where the boy died,” Bayri said of the victim who died in his arms. “I saw that the boy beside me — I didn’t know him, but I’ve taken him into my heart — fall down.”
Bayri described trying in vain to keep the teen alive until help arrived.
“‘Your injuries aren’t that bad, brother,’ I said to him. ‘The ambulance is already coming. Don’t worry, it’ll all work out.’ Then he died in my arms,” he told The Associated Press.
“I will never forget the last words that he told me,” said Bayri, shaking his head. “‘Please help me, please help me.'”
Monica Raduvanov was at the Munich McDonald’s where the first shots fell. Terrified, she ran for cover beneath a bush outside the restaurant.
“I just hid and trembled and screamed,” she said.
Running into a nearby shop after a few minutes, she spent the next five hours inside until police sounded the all-clear.
“I was petrified,” she said, still shaking a day after the ordeal.