What we know about Hanau shooter Tobias R

AFP - [email protected]
What we know about Hanau shooter Tobias R
Flowers are laid in Hanau near police tape. Photo: DPA

A man identified only as 43-year-old Tobias R. is believed to have killed nine strangers in shootings at a shisha bar and a cafe in the German city Hanau late Wednesday, before killing his mother and finally himself.


Based on a racist "manifesto" published online, the prime suspect in the shootings has been described by King's College London counter-terror expert Peter Neumann as an "incel" with far-right leanings and "what seems like a significant mental health issue".

Here is what we know about the suspect and his motivations so far:

Who was Tobias R.?

German authorities and media typically do not report criminal suspects' full names until they appear in court, hence the shooter has been identified only as Tobias R.

Given that he killed himself, the question of when he will be openly identified remains to be seen

On his personal website, R. said he was born in 1977 in Hanau, a city of 100,000 people in central Germany.

READ ALSO: After Hanau: How can Germany deal with extreme right-wing terror?

After growing up and going to school there, he trained to become a bank employee before earning a degree in business from the university of Bayreuth in 2007.

The apartment where R. and his mother were found dead by police is in a working-class district of Hanau, not far from the second of the two bars targeted in Wednesday night's shootings.

In a video R. uploaded to YouTube, he spoke into the camera from a sparsely-decorated room, a rumpled bed and shelves filled with ringbinders behind him.

R. had a license to own weapons as a hobby marksman.


A 24-page "manifesto" seen by AFP documents R.'s belief from an early age that he was under surveillance by an unidentified "secret service", including simple computer illustrations depicting incidents from his life.

The author claims that real-life events ranging from the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan to former German national coach Jürgen Klinsmann's football management career, as well as plots of Hollywood movies, such as "Starship Troopers" and "Look Who's Talking", and TV series were based on his ideas.

"None of this can be a coincidence," he claims.

R. writes that he would often speak out loud while alone in attempts to influence world events via his invisible observers.

He also complained three times to the police about his suspicions that he
was being watched, to no effect.


Much of R.'s creed is concerned with races and nations he believes "must be completely destroyed", listing by name mostly Muslim-majority countries in North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, as well as Israel.

He believes that Germans are superior but includes citizens with migrant backgrounds in his genocidal schemes, dreaming of "halving" the country's population.

READ ALSO: 'A new strategy': How Germany plans to fight far-right extremism

"If there was a button I could press to make this happen I would press it immediately," he claims.

Meanwhile he approves of US President Donald Trump and urges "the West" to prevent China's rise to superpower status.

The document "shows a very deeply racist attitude," chief federal prosecutor Peter Frank told reporters in a press conference.


R. writes that "for my whole life I haven't had a wife or girlfriend, for the last 18 years exclusively because... I know I'm being surveilled".

He does not use the word "incel" -- a contraction of "involuntary celibate" used as a label and rallying cry by some people online.

Belief among men in such communities that they have been denied intimate relationships with women against their will has prompted some to turn to violence.

In 2018, a man mowed down 10 people with a van in downtown Toronto, after posting on Facebook that "the incel rebellion has begun".

Esoterica and conspiracy theories

A section on R.'s website listing links to other webpages and videos he found interesting an important highlights an apparent obsession with conspiracy theories, esoterica and the occult.

Topics he appears to have followed include missing people, supposed experiments with alien remains and technology by the US government, illegal CIA mind-control experiments in the 1950s and 60s known as "MK Ultra" and supposed psychic abilities.

In a video he himself posted to YouTube, R. addressed "all Americans" in English, making outlandish claims about evil rituals and child abuse on secret military bases and urging people to distrust "mainstream" media.



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