© Reuters. Police secure the area after a deadly shooting in Hamburg, Germany, on March 9, 2023. This still image was taken from a video.Non-stop news via Reuters TV / handouts via Reuters
By Riham Alkosaa and Jan Schwartz
HAMBURG (Reuters) – German gunmen shot dead six people at a Jehovah’s Witnesses chapel in Hamburg, Germany, before committing suicide, officials said on Friday.
Police and prosecutors said at a press conference that eight people were injured, including a woman who was seven months pregnant and lost her unborn daughter.
Officials said they were tipped off about the assailant but did not remove the gun, which was legally in their possession prior to the shooting at Thursday night’s event.
The killer’s motive remains unclear, but political reasons have been ruled out, officials said.
Authorities have only identified the shooter as Philip F. A 35-year-old German citizen and former Jehovah’s Witness opened fire through a window in a hall where dozens of people had gathered and before he could get inside.
According to police, he shot himself on the ground floor when police arrived minutes after the shooting began shortly after 9 pm (2000 GMT).
In recent years, Germany has seen a spate of mass shootings and plots by heavily armed groups to overthrow the government. Following the last mass shooting, Germany introduced stricter gun ownership rules and the government announced plans to tighten controls further.
The Hamburg shooter was known to police, who visited his apartment before the attack and responded to anonymous information raising concerns about his mental state. Semi-automatic pistol manufactured by Heckler & Koch in Germany and legally owned.
After the shooting, police returned to his apartment and found 15 magazines loaded with ammunition, they said.
Victims included four men and two women, as well as an unborn baby girl. The injured included a Ugandan and a Ukrainian, with four seriously injured.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are an international Christian denomination founded in the United States around 1870. They are best known in many countries for their door-to-door evangelism.
In a statement, Jehovah’s Witnesses said the religious group was “deeply affected by the horrific attack on members of the faith at a Kingdom Hall in Hamburg following a service.”
About 50 people attended an event held at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the city’s Alsterdorf district when the shootings began, officials said.
The police deployed more than 950 officers in a coordinated response, in part because grainy and dark footage of the attack captured by civilians made it possible that there was a second attacker. because it seemed to be It was later discovered that the man was acting alone.
The building, located in a residential area, has been used by the group as a place of worship for several years, resident Annelore Peemueller told Reuters.
Phone footage from another resident showed someone outside the building shooting through a window.
“I heard a loud gunshot,” said the person, who declined to give his name. “I saw a man shoot at a window with a gun.”
history of shooting
On Friday, people laid flowers outside the hall in commemoration. Forensic scientists loaded multiple corpses into a black van.
Another unidentified witness told reporters, “There was a series of 12 shots fired.” “Then I saw people being taken away in black bags.”
Germany has seen a spate of mass shootings in recent years. In February 2020, a shooter with suspected far-right ties killed himself and his mother in the western town of Hanau after shooting nine of him, including an immigrant from Turkey.
In October 2019, two people were killed when gunmen opened fire outside a synagogue in the eastern city of Halle on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur.
According to the Federal Office, Germany has over 940,000 registered individual gun owners.
Germany’s strong hunting and gun-sporting traditions are a big part of the country’s gun culture.Members of the DSB Shooters’ Association include approximately 1.35 million shooters in 14,200 clubs nationwide.
The mayor of Hamburg expressed shock.
“My heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims. Police are working full speed to track down the perpetrators and clarify their background,” Peter Chencher said on Twitter.
#German #Gunman #Kills #Fetuses #Jehovahs #Witness #Hall