According to authorities, a shooting at a Jehovah’s Witness meeting hall in Hamburg, Germany, left seven people dead, including an unborn child.
The shooter carried out the attack on Thursday alone before killing himself. His motivations are unclear, according to the police authorities.
A former member of the religious community with “ill-feelings,” the suspect, 35-year-old Philipp F, is only identified by his first name. Recent dramatic video purports to show the suspect shooting numerous rounds via a hallway window.
The police announced at a briefing on Friday that four men and two women had been shot to death. Moreover, a seven-month-old foetus was struck in the womb and died, although its mother lived. German nationals were all the deceased. There were eight injuries, four of them serious. Those hurt included a Ukrainian and a Ugandan.
On Thursday at 21:04 local time (20:04 GMT), the police received the first emergency contact reporting gunfire inside a structure on Deelböge Street in the Gross Borstel neighborhood.
Four minutes later, officers arrived on the scene, and special forces joined them nearly immediately. To get inside the premises where roughly 50 people had congregated, the officers had to shatter windows.
The guy ran to the first level and was identified as a “sports shooter” with a gun license. Shortly later, his “lifeless body” was discovered. Nine magazines of ammunition had been shot by him, and 20 more were discovered in his rucksack.
German senator Andy Grote claimed that police officers’ “quick and decisive actions” had saved numerous lives. He added that the incident was the “worst crime” in recent Hamburg history.
The police stated that they had previously received a tip-off that was anonymous and raised questions about the mental stability of the culprit. Police had visited him following the tip, but they lacked sufficient evidence at the time to take his pistol away.
According to Gregor Miesbach, who recorded the shooter firing through a first-floor window for the tabloid Bild: “I didn’t realise what was happening. I was filming with my phone, and only realised through the zoom that someone was shooting at Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“I heard loud gunshots… I saw a man with a firearm shooting through a window and filmed it,” he said.
Lara Bauch, a 23-year-old student who lives nearby, told the DPA news agency that “there were about four bursts of gunfire – several shots were fired in each burst – with gaps lasting roughly 20 seconds to a minute”.
She claimed that she could see someone urgently racing up to the first floor from her window on the ground floor. She said, “The man was going quickly and dressed in dark attire.
On Thursday night, “one or more unknown perpetrators shot at individuals in a church,” according to an alert posted on the government’s warning app NINAwarn.
In light of the ongoing police operation, local people were advised to stay inside their homes. Video shows cops leading attendees out of the meeting space and some of them into ambulances. It was “still absolutely unclear” why the incident occurred.
Olaf Scholz, the chancellor of Germany, called it a “brutal act of violence” and expressed his sympathies to the victims’ families.
In a statement, the Jehovah’s Witness community in Germany said it was “deeply saddened by the horrific attack on its members at the Kingdom Hall in Hamburg after a religious service”.
The meeting house’s inside was brightly lit throughout the night while forensic specialists in white suits worked there.
Members of the Christian-based religious group known as Jehovah’s Witnesses were first established in the US around the end of the 19th century.
According to the movement’s most recent report from 2022, there are roughly 8.7 million Jehovah’s Witnesses in the world, including about 170,000 in Germany. The organization is thought to have up to 4,000 members in the city of Hamburg.
Most people know Jehovah’s Witnesses for their door-to-door evangelistic effort when they go from home to house and provide Bible literature.
While having a Christian foundation, the group holds that orthodox Christian Churches have strayed from the Bible’s original teachings and are not fully in tune with God.
Germany has some of the harshest firearms regulations in all of Europe, including a requirement that anybody under 25 must successfully pass a psychological test in order to obtain a firearms license.
According to the National Firearms Registration, there were about one million private gun owners in Germany in 2021. The majority of them are owned by hunters, and they total 5.7 million legal firearms and firearm parts.
German officials intend to make the nation’s gun restrictions even stricter following a wave of arrests in December in connection with an alleged coup attempt.