The man suspected of killing nine people in the German city of Hanau on Wednesday evening was likely a right-wing extremist, according to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Shortly after the murders at two hookah bars, police entered a home in which two bodies were found — a 43-year-old man and his mother as well as the suspected murder weapon. It later emerged that the man had run a website, which is now being investigated by the authorities.
“An initial analysis of the man’s website points at a xenophobic motive,” the interior minister of Hesse, Peter Beuth, said as part of a statement he gave at the state parliament.
Merkel gave a statement in Berlin before leaving for the European Council budget summit in Brussels. “Currently a lot suggests that the perpetrator did this for right-wing extremist, racist reasons,” she said, adding that racism and hatred are a “poison that exists in our society and it has already caused far too many crimes.”
Merkel said she was being kept updated on the situation and had spoken to Hesse state premier Volker Bouffier. “I will also be kept updated during the European Council summit,” she said.
According to various German media outlets, the man uploaded a video message to his website several days ago, in which he addressed “the American people who are controlled by secret forces.” Also on the website, the man talked about “the bad behavior of certain ethnic groups” and mentioned “destructive races” in Germany.
Beuth said the suspected killer was not known to police.
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht will travel to Hanau later Thursday, a spokesperson for the interior ministry said.
As European leaders were gathering for the Council summit in Brussels to debate the budget, many took to Twitter to express their condolences to the families of the dead.
“Our thoughts are with the victims and the grieving families. I stand with Chancellor Merkel in this fight for our values and the protection of our democracies,” French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “I am deeply shocked by the tragedy that took place last night in Hanau.”