Unborn baby among seven killed in Jehovah's Witness hall shooting at in Germany
March 10, 2023 12:04pm
Updated: March 10, 2023 12:31pm
Seven people, including an unborn baby, were killed and several others were injured in a shooting at a Jehovah's Witness Hall in the northern city of Hamburg, German media said Friday.
The shooting occurred at about 9 p.m. Thursday night at the three-story Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall, located 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.
German authorities received an anonymous warning about the psychiatric condition of the alleged shooter before the incident, police said.
The purported attacker reportedly obtained a sport shooter weapons permit last year, allowing him to acquire the firearm he used in the attack, according to police and prosecutors.
“The perpetrator fled to the first floor of the building and there he committed suicide, so we are talking about eight deaths in total,” said Andy Grote, an elected member of the country's Bundesrat legislative branch.
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 chief added that swift police action enabled officers to “isolate” the shooter, preventing more deaths.
The perpetrator had no criminal record. 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 serious condition.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz took to Twitter Friday morning, saying his thoughts were with the victims of “a brutal act of violence.”