MUNICH — The father sat on his son’s bed, his voice so ragged from grief he could only speak in a whisper. He talked about calling his child’s mobile phone over and over. No answer. He spoke about the dread, then panic and anger, until nine hours after his 14-year-old boy went missing, the authorities finally told him that Can Leyla had been shot dead.
In the rampage in Munich, the third in nine days in Europe, the immediate focus has been on the young man who stalked and killed nine and wounded two dozen at a fast-food restaurant and a mall in a placid German suburb. Who was the killer? Why did he do it? Was he a terrorist?
On the other side of the news are the devastated families of the victims, who themselves tell something about Europe today.
The nine dead were overwhelmingly young — eight of the nine were under 20. Three were just 14. They were mostly the children of immigrants, with last names like Sulaj, Dag and Dayicik. Three teens were of Turkish descent, and three youths had parents who came from Kosovo and Albania. Another boy’s parents were from Greece.
They are the young faces of Germany. Most are believed to be German citizens, who had German futures.
But Can Leyla’s father, Hasan, said Germany abandoned his family in its hour of need.
“I don’t blame Germany for what happened to my son. I blame Germany for how we have been treated,” he said.
The 45-year-old employee at the nearby BMW factory said he was pushed away from the mall where the shooting occurred; sent to a crisis center where no one knew anything; ignored by authorities, put on hold, given the run-around.
“It is because of the way I look. Because of my name,” he said. Leyla was finally allowed to see his son’s body Sunday.
While condolences and offers of help poured in from the local Turkish community, nobody from the German federal or municipal government has called — although the Turkish foreign minister phoned the family personally.
“I will always be treated like a foreigner here,” said Leyla, who was born and raised in Germany. His father came from Turkey to Germany in 1966, one of millions of Turkish guest workers.
The Washington Post’s security correspondent Souad Mekhennet, who is based in Europe and specializes in covering terrorism, is related to the Leyla family. She was reporting on the Munich shootings when she learned one of her relatives was among the dead.
German police said the teenage gunman who went on a rampage at a shopping center Friday had no ties to the Islamic State or other extremist groups, but the authorities said he had been planning his attack for a year and may have been inspired by a similar assault by another German youth in 2009.
At a news conference on Sunday, German authorities said evidence continued to support their theory that David Ali Sonboly, 18, was “obsessed” with mass killings and may have been a depressed loner who was bullied in school.
Robert Heimberger, head of the Bavarian criminal police, said Sonboly had visited the German town of Winnenden last year, the scene of a similar shooting spree seven years ago by a 17-year-old that left 15 students and teachers dead at his former school.
The Munich shooter took photographs at the site, authorities said.
German police also said Sunday that it was likely the pistol used in the Munich attack was bought by Sonboly via the “darknet,” a corner of the Internet where users employ encryption, anonymity and special software to trade restricted items, pornography, ideas, files and whistle-blowing alerts to circumvent government snooping.
Hueseyin Bayri, who witnessed one teenager’s death, told the Associated Press on Sunday that the assailant shouted profanities about foreigners, adding, “I will kill you all!” as he fired rounds at his victims.
In an amateur video that shows hecklers taunting Sonboly during his rampage, the shooter yells back, “I am German!” and complains about years of being bullied by his peers.
Kosovo President Hashim Thaci called for a day of mourning for three young ethnic Albanians who were killed in Munich. He called them “heroes in the war for the joint freedom and values in Europe,” according to Sky News.
Another of the victims was Hüseyin Dayicik, 17, whose parents were originally from Greece. German news media say he lost his life trying to protect his sister. Greek parliamentarian Andreas Loverdos tweeted that Dayicik's courageous act “will inspire all Greeks, all people.”
Hassan Leyla’s son was shot by Sonboly while he was dining with his best friend, Selcuk Kili, 15, at the McDonald’s. Kili was also killed. The two boys lived next door to each other in a Munich suburb.
Leyla described his son as obsessed with soccer. He was attending a special sports high school for gifted athletes. He awoke at 5:30 a.m. and trained every day.
“I not telling you this because he was a son. But he was a peacemaker; he befriended the weak,” he said.
While many in Munich have praised the police response to the shooting rampage with saving lives, Leyla doesn’t see it that way. There were thousands of police, including many in military gear. “Yet the shooter wandered around for two hours. If the terrorist didn’t shoot himself, maybe the killing would have continued even longer.”
In the southwestern city of Reutlingen on Sunday, a 21-year-old man with a machete killed a woman and injured two others before he was arrested, police said. The suspect is a Syrian asylum seeker who had gotten into an argument with the woman, police said. The slaying adds to a string of recent attacks in Germany, including a teenager who police said used an ax last week to injure five people on a commuter train.
Kirchner reported from Berlin.