Unborn baby among 7 dead in gun rampage at Jehovah’s Witness hall
AN unborn baby was among seven killed by a gunman who opened fire at his former Jehovah’s Witness centre in Hamburg.
The attacker shot dead four men, two women and the baby – killed in the mother’s womb – and injured eight more before killing himself when police arrived at the scene on Thursday night.
The mother, who was 28 weeks pregnant, survived the attack.
The suspect has been named as Philipp Fusz, 35, who advertises himself online as a business consultant. His bizarre website suggests he charges 250,000 euros a day for his services, German newspaper Der Spiegel reported.
At a press conference, police said he ran ‘amok’ in the hall, first shooting through a window and then forcing entry to the building and firing more than 100 rounds.
‘Bore anger towards religious believers’
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, a former Hamburg mayor, described the shooting as ‘a brutal act of violence’. His motive is not known but police said he was a former member of the Jehovah’s Witness congregation and left ‘ apparently not on good terms’.
On his website, Fusz said he grew up in an evangelical household in the Allgau region in southern Germany.
The victims were thought to be at a Bible study class that began at 7pm, with around 50 people at the Kingdom Hall.
In terrifying grainy footage recorded from a distance, the gunman was seen walking up to a window and firing several shots. When inside, he fired more than 100 rounds from a semi-automatic Heckler & Koch P30 pistol he had legally owned since December.
Student Laura Bauch, who lives nearby, said there were ‘ several shots’ in around four periods of firing, according to German media.
Police reportedly found a further 15 magazines of ammunition in his home. A political motive was ruled out but Hamburg police chief Ralf Martin Meyer admitted Fusz was visited by police in February after they received an anonymous tip in January claiming he ‘bore particular anger toward religious believers, especially Jehovah’s Witnesses and his former employer’.
But officers said the man had been cooperative and they found no grounds to take away his weapon, according to Mr Meyer. He said: ‘An anonymous tip in which someone says they’re worried a person might have a psychological illness isn’t in itself a basis for [such] measures.’
Germany’s gun laws are more restrictive than those in the United States, but permissive compared with some European neighbours.
Police said they received the first reports of an attack at 9.04pm and entered the building less than ten minutes later. The head of Germany’s
GdP police union in Hamburg, Horst Niens, said the swift arrival of a special operations unit ‘distracted the perpetrator and may have prevented further victims’.
Hamburg’s state interior minister, Andy Grote, called the shooting ‘the worst crime that our city has experienced recently’.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are part of a church founded in the US in the 19th century. It claims a global membership of nearly 8.7million, with about 170,000 in Germany.