In Germany, Six Jehovah’s Witnesses Are Murdered by an Ex-Member
In the German city of Hamburg, a dissatisfied former Jehovah’s Witness member shot and killed six members of the Religious organization’s congregation before killing himself, according to authorities.
Hamburg Interior Minister Andy Grote described the attack on Thursday evening as “the worst crime in our city’s recent history” because it left eight other people injured, four of them critically.
Philipp F., 35, a former Christian group member who left the neighborhood around 18 months ago “but evidently not on good terms,” was the shooter, according to police.
There was no evidence of a terrorist motive in the incident, according to a senior prosecutor, but investigators were still looking for a reason for the killings.
Philipp F. may have had an undetected psychological condition, according to an anonymous tip-off made to the arms control authority in January of this year, and he may have had a “specific rage towards religious people or against the Jehovah’s Witnesses and his former employer”.
Following the shooting, searches of the shooter’s apartment turned up 15 magazines with 15 bullets apiece and four additional packs of ammo, totaling around 200 rounds.
Authorities reported that the shooter opened fire on a car after he saw the driver maneuvering the automobile toward the Kingdom Hall structure. With minor injuries, the woman managed to flee and called the police.
The attacker opened fire on the congregation of about three dozen worshippers present at the ceremony and another 25 viewers of the livestream after shooting at a window through which he entered the church.
Emergency services received the first distress calls on Thursday at 9:04 p.m. local time (2004 GMT), and minutes afterwards police broke into the Jehovah’s Witnesses building.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses association in Germany expressed its “deep sorrow” over the brutal attack on its members.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz denounced the “brutal act of violence” and expressed sympathy for the victims’ families.
Nancy Faeser, the interior minister, stated that investigators were “working nonstop to establish the backdrop” of the incident.
Late on Thursday, neighbors reported hearing several rounds fired.
Bernd Miebach, a 66-year-old business owner, told AFP that his son recorded the entire event because he could see it clearly from his home.
You can see someone breaking a glass, hear bullets being fired, and see someone breaking in on the footage.
Witnesses have been urged by the police to come forward and post any photos or videos they may have on a specific website.
Another local claimed that “four or five minutes” later, cops had arrived on the site.
The woman, who only provided her first name, Anetta, stated, “We heard bullets and we knew something significant was happening.
She referred to the Jehovah’s Witness group as being “very serene, quiet,” and she claimed to be aware that they used the building.
On Friday, a number of officers were stationed outside the three-story building, which was still blocked off.
At least four dead were brought out of the building as hearses arrived about noon, according to an AFP reporter.
There are roughly 175,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany, 3,800 of them reside in Hamburg. Door-to-door evangelism is a hallmark of the US Christian movement, which was founded in the late 19th century and promotes nonviolence.
Recent years have seen a number of attacks in Germany, both by far-right and Islamic extremists.
12 people were killed in a vehicle rampage at a Berlin Christmas market in December 2016—one of the bloodiest acts by Islamist extremists.
A series of far-right attacks have recently rocked Germany, leading to claims that the government is not doing enough to stop neo-Nazi violence.
In the central German city of Hanau in February 2020, a far-right extremist shot and killed 10 people while injuring five more.
On the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur in 2019, two people were killed when a neo-Nazi attempted to attack a synagogue in Halle.