Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has described the attack as “anti-Semitic”, possibly “extreme right.”
The police announced their arrest late in the afternoon. “The person arrested is the suspect,” a spokesman for the local police told the agency France Presse, which said he had been injured.
The attacker recorded the attack while insulting Jews and foreigners, according to several German media.
“As far as we know, we have to assume at least that it is an anti-Semitic attack,” Seehofer said in a statement late in the afternoon.
“According to the Federal Prosecutor’s Office [competent in cases of terrorism], there are indications of a possible extreme right-wing motivation,” added the German Interior Minister after a day of tension and strong police deployment to the hunt for one, or more authors, of the attack.
With the hours, the investigation was focused on a single attacker, identified by the weekly Der Spiegel as Stephan B., 27 years old and originally from the State of Saxony-Anhalt, of which Halle (about 233,000 inhabitants) is part.
The young man allegedly recorded with a camera that was attached to the helmet that carried over the head the attack on a synagogue and subsequently the shots he made against a woman in the middle of the street and against a Turkish fast-food place where a client died.
The police have not yet pronounced on the video and its authorship.
The 35-minute recording, which was sent to the Twicht platform, shows how the shooter enters the city center, tries to break into the Jewish temple and shoots in the street. Then he goes to the Turkish food establishment and continues shooting.
In addition, he is heard insulting Jews and foreigners, and denying the Holocaust. The way the aggressor acts is reminiscent of that of the author of the killing in two mosques last March in Christchurch (New Zealand).
The Australian extremist Brenton Tarrant also recorded his attack, which cost the lives of 51 people, and uploaded it to the Internet with a supremacist manifesto.
The tragedy of Halle began shortly after noon, when the attacker tried to force the entrance of the synagogue, which was about 80 faithful to celebrate Yom Kippur, a prominent feast of the Jewish calendar.
The man approached the door and, unable to open it, opened fire on the building.
The attempted assault was seen from inside by the president of the Jewish community of Halle, Max Privorotzki, through a security camera.
“The author shot several times at the door and also threw several Molotov cocktails to enter, but the door remained closed. God protected us. The attack lasted between five and ten minutes,” said the president of the congregation to various media.
“The synagogue’s security measures resisted, otherwise there would have been a bloodbath,” he said.
The attacker left homemade explosives in front of the temple door and killed a woman near the synagogue before heading towards a Turkish fast-food shop. There the second victim died. “A man with a helmet and military uniform threw a hand grenade at the premises,” Konrad Roesler, who was at the establishment, about 600 meters from the synagogue, told the NTV news channel.
“The grenade knocked on the door and exploded. He shot at least once and the man behind me must be dead. I hid in the bathroom and closed the door,” he said.
According to local press reports, the attacker would also have thrown hand grenades at the Jewish cemetery, a fact that was not confirmed by the police.
Videos broadcast on social networks showed the man getting out of a vehicle and shooting.
After the event, the train station has been closed and the authorities have asked the population not to leave their homes, since for hours the police searched for more than one shooter.
The synagogue was surrounded by police and was not evicted until hours later.
In the nearby Landsberg, another shooting exchange has been reported, although the police have not clarified whether it was linked to the event.
Given the size of the attack, the Prosecutor General’s Office, competent in cases of suspected terrorism, has taken charge of the investigation. A spokesman for the agency has said that the step had been taken because the event involves “violent acts that affect the internal security of the Federal Republic of Germany.”
In several cities in the country, the authorities sent police units to protect synagogues.
Nach ersten Erkenntnissen wurden zwei Personen in #Halle getötet.
Es fielen mehrere Schüsse. Die mutmaßlichen Täter sind mit einem Fahrzeug flüchtig. Wir fahnden mit Hochdruck und bitten die Bevölkerung in ihren Wohnungen zu bleiben. #hal0910
— Polizei Halle (Saale) (@Polizei_HAL) October 9, 2019