German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a statement following a shooting in the central German city Hanau, at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Feb. 20, 2020.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a statement following a shooting in the central German city Hanau, at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Feb. 20, 2020.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday "there are many indications" that the suspect in deadly shootings in the town of Hanau acted on "right-wing, extremist, racist motives."

"Racism is a poison," she said.  "Hatred is a poison and this poison exists in our society and it is to blame for already far too many crimes."

Police say a gunman opened fire at two hookah bars in Hanau, where some immigrants gathered, east of Frankfurt, killing nine people and wounding several others.

Authorities identified the suspected shooter as a 43-year-old local man.

Law enforcement officials said they were trying to determine if he was associated with any groups and were not looking for other suspects.

Forensic officers carry evidence from one of two hookah bars where several people were killed on Wednesday night, in Hanau, Germany, Feb. 20, 2020.

Germany’s federal prosecutor, Peter Frank, confirmed the suspect had circulated extremist videos and inflammatory rhetoric that has since been taken down.

“We now have ethnic groups, races or cultures in our midst that are destructive in every respect,” he wrote. He called for a “rough cleaning” followed by a “fine cleaning” that he said could cut the world’s population in half.

A police spokesman said witnesses identified a vehicle used in the shooting, which led investigators to the home of the suspect. Police say two people were found dead at the apartment, one of them the apparent suspect, the other believed to be the suspect's mother.

Merkel pledged "everything will be done" to investigate the killings and said it is a "sad day" for the country.

"The German government and all state institutions stand for the rights and the dignity of each individual human being in our country. We do not differentiate citizens based on their origin or religion. We will vehemently and decisively confront all those who are trying to divide in Germany," she said.