Police say that a disgruntled former Jehovah’s Witness killed seven people after leaving the religious group on bad terms
Police in the German city of Hamburg have identified a gunman who shot seven people dead at a Jehovah's Witness center on Thursday night. The 35-year-old man recently parted ways with the religious group, and may have had a score to settle with members of his former faith.
At a press conference in the city on Friday, authorities named the perpetrator as ‘Philipp F.’ The 35-year-old man left the group around 18 months ago, “but apparently not on good terms,” Hamburg’s head of state security, Thomas Radszuweit, said at the briefing.
German media outlets have since identified ‘Philipp F.’ as business consultant Philipp Fusz. A website linked to Fusz describes his consultancy work in broken English and promotes a book written by him entitled ‘The Truth about God, Jesus Christ and Satan.’
Officers received an anonymous tip about Fusz in January, with the informant claiming that he suffered from an undiagnosed psychiatric illness and may have harbored “particular anger against religious members or against the Jehovah's Witnesses and his former employer.”
Police visited Fusz the following month, but found no justification to confiscate his legally-owned pistol, Hamburg police chief Ralf Martin Meyer told reporters.
Fusz approached the Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall during a service on Thursday and fired at a woman in a car outside the building. When the woman escaped, he shot out a window and entered the building, where three dozen people were worshiping inside. He fatally shot seven people, including an unborn baby whose mother survived the attack with serious injuries. Seven other people were injured.
Police officers arrived in less than ten minutes and pursued Fusz to the second floor of the building, where he turned his gun on himself and took his own life. Officers raided Fusz’s apartment later on Thursday night and found 15 loaded pistol magazines and four additional boxes of ammunition.
“It is very likely that we owe it to the very, very quick and determined intervention of the police forces that there were no more victims here,” Hamburg Interior Minister Andy Grote said at the briefing, describing Thursday’s shooting as “the worst crime in our city’s recent history.”