Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday.

Munich shooting: Kiwis tell of horror - 'Everyone started running down the street'

A police officer walks outside the Olympia mall in Munich, southern Germany. Photo / AP
A police officer walks outside the Olympia mall in Munich, southern Germany. Photo / AP

A Kiwi couple travelling in Europe have told of their terror as they were holed up in a shop basement in Munich directly after a shooting attack.

At least nine people are dead and an unknown number wounded following the shooting near a McDonald's close to the Olympia shopping centre, in the northern part of the German city, shortly before 6pm on Friday night local time (4am Saturday morning NZT).

Paul Kennedy and Marieann Keenan, both 58, from Motueka, were in a nearby shopping mall on a night out when all hell broke loose.

"We were in the entrance of a shop as we were looking for a place to eat on the streets that were crowded with people," Marieann told the Herald.

Kiwi couple Paul Kennedy and Marieann Keenan, who are caught in the Munich chaos. Photo / Supplied
Kiwi couple Paul Kennedy and Marieann Keenan, who are caught in the Munich chaos. Photo / Supplied

"All of a sudden everyone started running down the street. We thought we heard a shooter so ran inside the shop and the staff took us down to the basement.

"The staff were great but very nervous and tense. We were at the bottom of an escalator and every time someone appeared at the top they reacted with fear.

"It's such a crowded city normally with streets full of holiday-makers, but tonight it's quiet except for police sirens and helicopters overhead."

The couple have been working as teachers in Honk Kong for the past five years and were holidaying in Europe before coming back to New Zealand to stay.

"When we were in the basement we had no idea what was going on and only found out what was happening when I checked the New Zealand Herald website on my phone.

"We were in the basement with about 40 other people and the shop staff were fantastic and really looked after us.

"After about three hours we were told the police had said it was okay to leave and we went straight back to our apartment.

"Earlier in the evening there was a real beer festival atmosphere going on in the city but now it is very subdued."

Den Gill, a BMW mechanic, who has lived in Munich on and off since 2008, said he was considering moving home following the attack.

"Being a Kiwi, these kind of things don't really happen back home, so yea, I'm a little bit scared, a little bit worried," he said.

"But for me, if I stay in hiding then we're letting these people do exactly what they want us to do. I'm still going to go to work in the next days and carry on with my life, but I'm sure it's going to be look over my shoulder kind of thing that's going to be happening for the next few weeks or so.

"I've already started thinking that maybe I should come home with all the stuff that's happening over here in Europe. Definitely scary stuff."

Communications were down for "quite a while" following the shooting, he said. It was believed to be because police were trying to cut of the attacker's ability to communicate, Gill said.

"I play rugby over here in Munich, so I have a lot of friends in the rugby community, and we've been trying to get a hold of each other and of course all the phone networks are down.

"From what I've heard it's due to trying to shut down the communications that are linked to whoever it is that's running around with a gun."

He had seen video footage of a man dressed in black shooting from the top of a parking building, he said.

"Thankfully, I'm in the other part of the city, but at this stage it could have happened anywhere."

David Graham, New Zealand hairdresser living in Munich, said he was on the east side of town with his daughter when the shooting started.

"We were told to stay in the auditorium, stay in the hall, and not to leave," he said.
Everyone was "a little bit scared", he said.

"They didn't really know what was happening. No one really knows who's doing this shooting, if it's Islamic or some right-wing Nazi, no one really knows."

They were all kept inside for hours, he said, and he didn't get back to his house - around 2 kilometres from the Olympia centre - until 11pm.

"Everything's ok. Police are looking around, there's helicopters flying around everywhere, but they don't know who it is or what's going on.

Another Kiwi in Munich said it was a "surreal experience".

"Thankfully my family and friends here are safe except for one friend no one can reach which is freaking me out a little," Amy said, who was at home when the attack happened.

"A few of us got together at my place and we more or less spent the evening keeping an eye on the Live Ticker updates.

"I think what has impressed me the most is that almost my entire Facebook newsfeed is full of people offering their homes for anyone who is stuck and unable to get home."

There are 420 New Zealanders currently registered as being in Germany, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mfat) spokeswoman said.

"The New Zealand Embassy in Berlin is in contact with German authorities to ascertain whether any New Zealanders have been caught up in the shootings," the spokeswoman said, describing the attack as an "unfolding security situation".

"New Zealanders in Germany are advised to exercise heightened vigilance at this time, follow any instructions issued by the local authorities, monitor the media to stay informed of developments, avoid the vicinity of Munich's Olympia Shopping Centre and let their family and friends in New Zealand know they're okay."

SafeTravel also urged Kiwis to avoid the area around the shopping centre, which is close to the Olympic stadium.

Kiwis seeking help in Munich are asked to contact the Embassy in Berlin on +49 (0) 151 5167 5820.

- NZ Herald

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