Disasters & Accidents

Unborn baby among 7 killed in shooting at Jehovah’s Witness hall in Hamburg

(Update 2: adds info on anonymous tip)

Berlin, Mar 10 (EFE).- Seven people, including an unborn baby, were killed and several others were injured in a shooting at a Jehovah’s Witness center in Hamburg, police said on Friday.

The shooting occurred around 9pm on Thursday night at the three-story Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall, in a neighborhood north of Hamburg, Germany’s second-largest city.

The gunman, a 35-year-old German citizen identified only as Philipp F., was a former member of the religious community, Hamburg police chief Matthias Tresp told reporters at a press conference.

“The perpetrator fled to the first floor of the building and there he committed suicide, so we are talking about eight deaths in total,” member of the Bundesrat for Hamburg, Andy Grote, added.

Tresp confirmed that as police stormed the building they spotted an individual fleeing to the first floor where he was later found dead with a “lethal wound and a firearm next to him.”

The police chief added that it was thanks to the swift police operation that officers managed to “isolate” the shooter, preventing more deaths.

The perpetrator had no criminal record but did have a firearms license and used a registered weapon in the rampage, and police did admit that they had received an anonymous tip that he was unsuitable for a gun permit due to an undiagnosed psychiatric disorder.

The authorities conducted the appropriate proceedings but according to the results of the inspection that was carried out no further action was taken and F. did not have his gun permit withdrawn, a police official said.

“An anonymous tip from someone who expresses concern that someone might have a mental disorder is not a basis to take measures,” officer Martin Meyer said responding to questions from the press.

Police found two magazines with 15 bullets each, and a further 20 loaded magazines in a backpack at the scene.

Officers also raided his home where they found multiple ammunition boxes and confiscated electronic devices that were being examined.

Although the motive for the attack remains unknown, police believe there could have been a personal dispute, without providing further details.

The suspect had been a Jehovah’s Witness but left the religious community about a year and a half ago, “voluntarily but not on good terms,” a spokesman for Hamburg’s Criminal Investigation Office, Thomas Radzuweit, said.

The seven fatal victims of the attack were four men and two women, all German citizens aged between 33 and 60, as well as a seven-month-old unborn child. None of the victims were related to the perpetrator.

Eight people were injured and four of them were in a serious condition.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz took to Twitter Friday morning, saying his thoughts were with the victims of “a brutal act of violence.”

Hamburg Mayor Peter Tschentscher tweeted his “deepest condolences to the families of the victims” following the “shocking” attack.

A website for the public to upload photos and video footage of the crime “or relevant events” has been set up to help with the investigation. EFE


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