Local Youth Ministry Group Caught in Middle of Attack in Germany

Members of a youth ministry group from a church in La Jolla were forced to shelter in place for three hours.

A gunman shot and killed nine people at a shopping center in Munich, Germany before killing himself on Friday.

The gunman was an 18-year-old German-Iranian from Munich who lived in the city for more than two years, according to police.

Caught in the middle of the attack were members of a youth ministry group from Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Church in La Jolla.

The Gathering Youth Ministry group was on a pilgrimage to join Pope Francis for World Youth Day. They had been eating dinner at a restaurant near the mall when gunfire erupted outside.

“Shooting erupted, what we thought was actually in the Hofbrauhaus, so we heard gun fire. Maybe two pops of a pistol,” Youth Minister Bob Schrimpf said.

Schrimpf spoke to NBC 7 through FaceTime from Munich, Germany. He was with six other adults and 10 teenagers when the shooting happened.

“It's traumatizing. I'm half in shock myself right now. It's hard to process. You come face to face with that. It's a lot of panic,” Schrimpf said.

Panic is the only way to describe it. Schrimpf took cell phone video as the group, splintered by the rush of people trying to flee, exited the restaurant.

“Just not knowing where to go or what to do. There was really nobody telling you what to do,” Schrimpf said.

But outside felt no safer.

Schrimpf says law enforcement and military acted swiftly but they were forced to shelter in place at another restaurant ten blocks away for three hours.

The attacks left many in the group feeling scared and shocked.

“Some are just very quiet right now. Some don't necessarily want to continue on with the trip or at least be in big crowds, so we are going to take it one day at a time,” Schrimpf said.

With hearts full of anxiety and sadness the youth ministry turned to the purpose that brought them, their faith.

They prayed and wrote a post on Facebook to assure worriedd families that they were safe.

“We prayed for the men who perpetrated the attacks tonight. We pray for our world. We know it's broken. It's not perfect. I just don't want to let fear win,” Schrimpf said.

He told NBC 7 that he has been warned that Americans are targets so he did not reveal the group's itinerary.

They will be leaving Germany in the morning but it's unclear if they will continue heading to World Youth Day.

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