Authorities were searching for the perpetrators early Thursday, hours after the shootings that police said also wounded about five people. Police said a dark vehicle was spotted leaving the location of the first attack at about 10 p.m. (2100 GMT), and another shooting was reported at a second site.
Police officers swarmed central Hanau, cordoning off the area of one of the shootings as a helicopter hovered overhead. A car covered in thermal foil also could be seen, with shattered glass next to it. Forensic experts in white overalls collected evidence. A short police statement gave no information on the victims and said a motive was not immediately known. “This was a terrible evening that will certainly occupy us for a long, long time and we will remember with sadness,” Hanau Mayor Claus Kaminsky told the Bild newspaper.
Regional public broadcaster Hessischer Rundfunk said, without citing sources, that the first attack took place in a hookah lounge in the center of the city. It said witnesses reported hearing eight or nine shots and seeing at least one person on the ground. The shooter or shooters then apparently went to another part of the city, where shots were fired inside another hookah lounge, the broadcaster said.
Hookah lounges are places where people gather to smoke flavored tobacco from Middle Eastern water pipes. Hanau is in southwestern Germany, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of Frankfurt. It has about 100,000 inhabitants and is located in Hesse state. Police from neighboring Bavaria were deployed to help their local colleagues, news agency dpa reported.