Social media desaster at Munich rampage

Friday at 5:50 pm Munich fell into a state of chaos after an 18 years old started a shooting orgy at McDonalds Olympia shopping center. He killed 9 innocent people, mainly other teenagers, among them 7 of non-German origin.

It appeared that the gunman (Ali or David Sunboly), born here in Munich as son of Iranian parents was suffering of depression. Police records also indicate that he has been mobbed by his peers and experienced physical violence by other youngsters on several occasions. It is said that he purchased the gun, a 9mm Glock, via the dark net. The weapon had been re-assembled from a defunct one as they are frequently used for theater performances or in the film industry.

The social media failed completely in providing any useful information during the 3-4 hours of the event. More and more shooting cases were erroneously reported from other parts of the city, therefore causing more and more confusion and hysteria on the streets. And instead of circulating essential and useful information of how to find a safe shelter and how to help other people, the social media were overflowed with messages full of speculations of a political, usually an islamistic background. This lead people belive what they all were expecting anyway:  that at the end Germany could be struck by ISIS led terror the same way as Paris. But nothing of all this was true. At the end it appeared that the rampage had more in common  with the Columbine school shootings than with the Boston marathon bombings or the Orlando nightclub shooting. The Munich gunman had not got a political agenda at all, but was seeking revenge for being victimized over years. It is now thought he targeted youngsters of “Turkish and Arab” origin, having claimed those groups had picked on him in school.

munich Shooting

Ali (David) Sonboly, the teenage boy who shot dead 9 people in Munich,and friends and relatives commemorating the victims.

It was only a few weeks before that I had discovered the function of Twitter, when during the 2016 ESC awards and later at the Brexit votum people on a Europe wide scale quickly exchanged their thoughts and comments. In both cases, however instant informaton was mainly a tool for infotainement. But on Friday, electronic information had an essential function for guiding people away from the danger. And here the social media failed completely.

When I called Marina at 6:40 pm, i.e. 50 min after the shooting had started, she was riding in the train through the city center, without knowing anything. For some reasons all public transport (subway, busses, tram) had been stopped right away, apart from trains which were still operating without informing the passengers.

There were thousands of police man and woman, including special riot squads (SEK, GSG 9, austrian Cobra) heading towards Munich city center, because the initial reports mentioned three gunman with automated attack rifles (what was also first communicated via Twitter/Facebook/Whatsapp). At the end it was a single suicide attacker with a 9mm gun, who killed himself 30 min after starting the shooting.

A selfmade video from a tennant nearby the site of the shooting was released the same day. It documents the loud shouting match between the shooter, who was pacing on the top floor of a nearby parking garage, and Thomas Selby, 57, a truck driver who was looking at him from the balcony of his appartment.

Their calls back and forth, including a third person who joined in, are translated here from the German transcript (including explicit words):

Neighbor: “You’re the son of a bitch”

Shooter: “Yes, because of people like you have harassed me for seven years.”

Neighbor: “You’re a son of a damned bitch.”

Shooter: “And now I have to buy a gun in order to shoot you.”

Neighbor: “A gun?  Go fuck yourself, bloody foreigner.”

Shooter: “I’m a German.”

Neighbor: “You’re a son of a bitch,  that’s what you are.”

Shooter: “Stop taking pictures of me.”

Neighbor: “You stupid alien asshole, what are you doing here?”

Shooter: “I was born here.”

Third voice: “shit foreigners.”

Neighbor: “What the hell do you think you’re doing.”

Shooter: “I grew up here in Hartz IV (a social welfare scheme).”

Neighbor: “You’re a son of a bitch, I told you.”

Shooter: “You’re right, you’re right, you’re right.”

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