Youth group heard shooter's gunfire in Munich

They were attending 'World Youth Day' in Germany
Posted at 12:01 PM, Jul 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-23 15:01:23-04

A La Jolla Catholic church youth group that was in Munich, Germany when a deadly shooting occurred is safe, a man traveling with them said Saturday.

Reached by phone, Bob Schrimpf of Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Church said the 17-member group is now in Prague, Czech Republic.

"The kids (were) incredibly brave," Schrimpf said. "We're doing great."

The group -- which arrived in Europe on July 19 for World Youth Day, a Catholic Church event being held this year in Krakow, Poland -- was in Munich's famous Hofbrauhaus on Friday afternoon when the shooting began in a nearby shopping center.

Schrimpf, the La Jolla church's youth ministries director, said their group was leaving the Hofbrauhaus when they saw two girls come into the building crying. They told people they saw "someone shoot a man," he added.

The unidentified gunman, described as an 18-year-old German citizen of Iranian descent, shot and killed nine people before turning the weapon on himself.

According to a CNN report, German authorities said the shooter was mentally troubled and researched spree killings but had no apparent ties to ISIS.

Although they did not see the shooter, "the gunfire seemed to be a beat away from us," Schrimpf said. "It was terrifying ... we were locked down."

Panic ensued in the restaurant, Schrimpf said, adding people began diving under tables or seeking protection in closets or bathrooms.

"There was chaos," he said. "No one knew what was going on."

At one point during the mayhem, Schrimpf said he grabbed a fire extinguisher as a way to protect his group.

Munich police arrived at the Hofbrauhaus and secured the area, Schrimpf said.

After leaving the Hofbrauhaus, "we saw blood all over," Schrimpf said, adding the youth group sought shelter in the nearest hotel they could find before heading back to their hotel, on the other side of Munich.

"We talked about (what happened) late into the night," Schrimpf said, before they began their journey to Prague.

Not long after the shooting, Schrimpf wrote about the ordeal on his Facebook page, asking for "prayers, please."

The youth group, which includes 10 teenagers, will return to San Diego on Aug. 3, Schrimpf said.