While the attack lasted only a few minutes, authorities didn’t say until Tuesday afternoon that there was no evidence of a second attacker – adding to tensions in the capital as residents were told to stay home.
Two men and two women died in the attack from their injuries. Authorities said a police officer who tried to get in the way of the attacker was shot and wounded along with 21 other people.
The suspect was identified as a 20-year-old Austrian-North Macedonian dual citizen with a previous terrorist conviction for attempting to join the Islamic state group in Syria. The police searched 18 properties as well as the suspect’s home and arrested 14 people who are connected to the attacker interviewed, said Interior Minister Karl Nehammer.
“Yesterday’s attack was clearly an Islamist terrorist attack,” said Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. “It was a hate attack – hatred of our core values, hatred of our way of life, hatred of our democracy in which all people have equal rights and.” Would.”
The attacker, identified as Kujtim Fejzulai, was armed with a forged explosive vest, automatic rifle, pistol and machete, according to Nehammer. Before the attack, he posted a photo on a social media account in which he was posing with a gun and machete, said Nehammer.
Fejzulai was sentenced to 22 months in prison in April 2019, but was released early in December.
“The fact is that the terrorist managed to deceive the judicial system’s de-radicalization program,” said Nehammer, adding that the system should be re-evaluated.
He also said an attempt to strip the suspect of his Austrian citizenship had failed due to insufficient evidence. In North Macedonia, Interior Ministry spokesman Toni Angelovski said the authorities there would work with the Austrian police.
Fejzulai’s lawyer in the 2019 case, Nikolaus Rast, told the public broadcaster ORF that his client was “completely harmless” at the time.
“He was a young man who was looking for his place in society, who apparently went to the wrong mosque and ended up in the wrong circles,” said Rast.
Fejzulai’s family “was not strictly religious at all; the family was not radical,” added Rast. “I remember the family couldn’t believe what had happened to their son.”
Authorities worked well into Tuesday to see if there were any other attackers. About 1,000 police officers were on duty in the city. The Viennese were asked to stay home on Tuesday if possible, and the children did not have to go to school.
By the afternoon, the investigators, who searched numerous video evidence, had “found no evidence of a second perpetrator,” said Nehammer. “However, as the assessment has not yet been completed, we cannot conclusively say how many perpetrators are responsible for the crime.”
For the time being, there will be an increased level of security and an increased police presence in Vienna, he said. The country was silent for a minute on Tuesday lunchtime, accompanied by the ringing of bells in the capital, and the government ordered three days of official mourning, with flags being hoisted on public buildings on half-staff.
Filming began shortly after 8 p.m. On Monday near Vienna’s main synagogue, many people enjoyed one last night of open restaurants and bars before a month-long coronavirus lockdown began at midnight.
It was over nine minutes later, said Nehammer.
Alois Schroll, an Austrian lawmaker and mayor of the town of Ybbs, said he had just arrived at a nearby restaurant when the shooting started. He said he “saw many, many people running with their hands up, panicking and screaming.”
Police “sealed the entire restaurant,” the 52-year-old Schroll told The Associated Press. “The people in the restaurant were shocked, there were several women who were crying. And it wasn’t until just before 1 a.m. that the police finally let us out of the restaurant. “
Schroll said he wasn’t allowed to go back to his apartment because the area was still cordoned off – and spent hours wandering the streets.
Rabbi Shlomo Hofmeister said he saw at least one person shooting at people sitting outside in bars on the street under his window near the city’s main synagogue.
“They shot at least 100 laps right in front of our building,” said Hofmeister.
The attack was quickly condemned and pledged by leading politicians across Europe, including French President Emmanuel Macron, whose country has suffered three terrorist attacks in recent weeks, and Chancellor Angela Merkel. US President Donald Trump also condemned “another heinous act of terrorism in Europe”.