A man who shouted obscenities at the Munich killer as he carried out his rampage has said that he would have shot the killer if he’d had a gun. Instead he was forced to lob an empty beer bottle in an attempt to stall him.
Thomas Salbey became an internet sensation after footage of him hurling abuse at the perpetrator, Ali Sonboly, from the balcony of his fifth floor apartment was posted on Twitter.
But speaking to the MailOnline, Salbey says he’d have much rather fired bullets than harsh words at Sonboly.
“All I had was a beer bottle to throw at him. If I had a gun I would have shot him. I’d have shot him in the head,” Mr. Salbey said.
Describing the events of last Friday, he explained: “I was drinking a beer after work when I heard the shots, first at McDonald’s. Bam bam bam – that’s how it sounded.
“This was just below our house. At first I thought it was a Kalashnikov he was firing. Then I looked down from the balcony and saw him running along the glass tunnel.
“As he reloaded his gun I got my beer bottle and threw it at him. It broke on the glass, but I don’t think he heard it.”
Mr Salbey then began shouting at Sonboly, who aimed several shots in his direction in retaliation.
“At the time I was not sure if they were real of they were blanks. I now know they were for real.
“I hit the floor immediately, but I did see that he appeared to have gone quiet on the parking deck. By this time the police had arrived in front of the shopping centre.
“They didn’t know where he was, so I called over to them – ‘He’s there, up on the car park roof’. I wasn’t afraid.
“This should not have happened. I don’t know how he got a gun,” Mr. Salbey concluded.
Questions are being raised as to how Sonboly was able to access the semiautomatic Glock 17 despite Germany having some of the most restrictive gun laws in Europe. Gaining a firearm in Germany normally means passing a series of background checks, including mental health checks, and being able to prove safe handling and storage of both the weapon and ammunition, all of which takes several months – and all of which Sonboly bypassed.
But considering the wave of attacks seen in France and Germany over the last two weeks, others are starting to question whether European police, or even citizens, should be armed as a deterrent to those who illegally access weapons.
In another attack in Germany this week, a machete wielding Syrian who killed a pregnant woman and injured two others was only prevented from harming others thanks to the quick thinking of a passing motorist who mowed him down with their car.
Unfortunately its time to arm most police. Saddens me but I think we are there.
— PeterC (@Bhikkubodhi) July 22, 2016
Time to arm French civilians if they’re smart. https://t.co/hc4AnJTMxO
— ETAC Solutions (@MartinCartermc3) July 15, 2016
The question has been raised before. Three years ago after the attack by an Islamic terrorist on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, which saw 67 killed over a period of hours, the Secretary General of Interpol, Ronald Noble, called for a debate on relaxing gun laws.
“Societies have to think about how they’re going to approach the problem,” Mr. Noble said. “One is to say we want an armed citizenry; you can see the reason for that. Another is to say the enclaves are so secure that in order to get into the soft target you’re going to have to pass through extraordinary security.
“Ask yourself: If that was Denver Colorado, if that was Texas, would those guys have been able to spend hours, days, shooting people randomly?” Mr. Noble said, referring to American pro-gun states.
“What I’m saying is it makes police around the world question their views on gun control. It makes citizens question their views on gun control. You have to ask yourself, ‘Is an armed citizenry more necessary now than it was in the past with an evolving threat of terrorism?’ This is something that has to be discussed.”
So far the response from the European Commission has been to seek to introduce ever tighter gun control laws. Following the Charlie Hebdo attack in January 2015, the Commission set about drawing up the European Union’s most draconian gun laws to date, threatening to ban all semi-automatic weapons and even confiscating historical firearms from collectors.
In response, more than 330,000 European citizens signed a petition arguing that terrorism cannot be stopped “by restricting legal gun ownership”.
Although the proposals were watered down by MEPs, who felt that they represented not a response to terrorism but an attempt to curb legitimate use of firearms, the legislation was approved by the European Parliament, just one day before the Nice attack which claimed 84 lives. The draft directive will now pass to the Council.