Vienna Attack One Suspect Shot Dead and Second Arrested
The sight of men looking like semi-automatic rifles in a European capital may raise urgent questions to many observers as to how they can obtain such weapons in a continent known for its relatively strict gun laws.
According to the GunPolicy.org watch group, Austria has some of the most permissive gun laws in Europe. Private gun ownership is permitted for a variety of reasons, including self-defense. People can own pistols, repeating shotguns, and certain types of semi-automatic weapons with a license. Applicants must pass a history check before acquiring a weapon.
Austria is the 12th most armed country in the world with about 30 guns per 100 people, similar to Lebanon, Bosnia and Iceland, according to Small Arms Survey, a Geneva-based research group. By comparison, the United States has 120 guns out of 100, and the most armed European country is Macedonia, 39.1.
What we know so far
Armed attack: Auto-armed shooters opened fire at six locations in Vienna, Austria, Monday evening, according to police. The country’s Interior Minister and Chancellor described the incident as a “terrorist attack”.
Injured: Police said one was killed and one suspected gunman was shot dead. At least 15 people were injured, according to the mayor of Vienna.
Suspects: Police said several suspects were “armed with rifles”. It is not clear how many armed men there are. According to the country’s interior minister, at least one attacker is still on the run.
Jewish institutions in Vienna to close on Tuesday as a precaution
Oskar Deutsch, the head of the Jewish Religious Community in Austria, said on Twitter that all synagogues, Jewish schools and institutions of the Vienna Jewish Community, as well as kosher restaurants and supermarkets in the Austrian capital, will close on Tuesday as a precaution.
On Monday evening, fire was opened in a crowded area full of cafes and restaurants near the Seitenstettengasse Temple, Vienna’s main synagogue.
“An anti-Jewish cause cannot be ruled out because of where it occurred,” said Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
Stating that the synagogue was closed due to the end of the evening prayers during the attack, Deutsch said, “Whether the temple of the city was also the target of the attack can neither be confirmed nor denied at the moment.”
“The IKG (Vienna Jewish Community) is in close contact with the police. According to the current risk assessment, we are all asked to remain at home or somewhere we can lock in,” he said.
Vienna resident explains restaurant hiding from fire in basement
Julia Hiermann, a resident of Vienna, was drinking at a restaurant with a friend when the shooting began on Monday.
He told CNN over the phone that a nationwide lockdown to fight Covid-19 would go into effect at midnight, so he said he wanted to “take advantage of last night”.
After the attack started, restaurant staff told everyone to hide in the basement.
“Everyone ran and then we started to understand what was happening,” he said.
He and others in the basement were told there were people shooting in front of the restaurant. Hiermann told CNN that he had not seen or heard of any of the attackers.
The police then said, “He went in and told us we should stay inside and wait here.”
This seems unthinkable. When they said they had been fired, I didn’t think it was serious. “