GENEVA – The gunman who fired shots inside an Islamic center and who was found dead on Tuesday under a Zurich bridge has been identified by police as a 24-year-old Swiss national of Ghanian background.
He had also killed a friend of his on Sunday, leaving traces of his DNA on the victim, thereby enabling police to positively identify him.
The attack on the Islamic center happened Monday at around 16:30 GMT, when he entered the mosque where a group of mainly Moroccans, Somalis and Eritreans were praying.
After shooting at the congregation, the man fled.
Two Somali men aged 30 and 35, as well as a 56-year-old Swiss national, were wounded in the attack.
The youngest and eldest victims were rushed to the hospital in serious conditions, said the chief of the Zurich criminal police, Christine Lentjes Meili, at a press conference.
Françoise Stadelmann, of the Swiss Prosecutor’s Office – which deals with violent crimes – said that there was no indication that the individual had any links with the Islamic State, nor had he gone through an Islamist radicalization process.
However, the individual apparently had a great interest in the occult.
Police found “symbols and spaces” devoted to the occult sciences when they searched his apartment.
The police also determined that he had worked at a shop until last Friday, when he quit his job.
It remains unclear why the attacker chose a Zurich mosque, his motives for shooting or if he knew anybody at the prayer center.
The three injured men remain in hospital, but their lives are not at risk, according to the Zurich regional police spokesperson.
The Swiss police discovered that on Sunday the assailant also killed a close friend of his at a children’s playground in Zurich.
The victim was a 24-year-old Swiss national of Chilean background.
Evidence collected by police and forensic analysis by the Legal Medicine Institute found DNA traces at the murder scene.
By Monday morning, the police had traced the suspect’s whereabouts to the city of Uster, close to Zurich.
Police records also revealed that seven years ago, he had been arrested for the theft of a bicycle, which enabled them to immediately release his photograph to Swiss security forces.
A massive search operation was launched but police did not locate him at his apartment.
By noon Monday and with the help of his family, police were made aware of a phone call between the shooter and a relative, which enabled them to track down the public phone he used and comb nearby CCTV street cameras for his image.
The new, updated photographs were released by 14:00 GMT on Monday.
Some two hours later, the police were notified of the shooting at the Islamic center.
Initially, the police did not link the author of the shootout with Sunday’s playground murder.
It was only when the assailant’s body was found by the bridge that police concluded it was the same person.
A gun was found lying next to the body by a passerby, on the bank of the river Sihl under the Gessnerbrucke bridge in Zurich’s city center.
Authorities were unaware the shooter was under any psychological or psychiatric treatment, but in view of how events unfolded, Meili said police could not discard that possibility.