'Former Jehovah's Witness' named as Bible study massacre gunman

Terrifying moment ‘former Jehovah’s Witness’ opens fire through the window into German Bible study meeting then storms the building, killing seven before he is also found dead by police

  • Eight people were shot dead last night at the the ‘Kingdom Hall’ building
  • Bild reports the perpetrator was 35-year-old former member Phillip F.

This is the terrifying moment a gunman opened fire through the window of a Jehovah’s Witnesses church in Hamburg last night in a shooting that left eight people dead and others seriously injured.

Phillip F., 35, a former member of the religious community, was allegedly responsible for the deadly attack that also injured several other people, some seriously, according to German tabloid Bild.

In grainy footage, recorded from a distance, the man appears to walk up to a window of the church and fire off several shots into the ‘Kingdom Hall’ building from what has been reported to be a pistol – before storming inside.

Police said earlier that the perpetrator was found among the dead after armed officers rushed into the church last night. Officials said officers did not need to use their firearms and that he acted alone – suggesting that the suspect killed himself.

The victims were attending a bible study meeting at the Jehovah’s Witnesses church that began at 7pm local time. Reports said the attack started two hours later, at 9pm, with police responding roughly 15 minutes later.

Phillip F., 35, (pictured) a former member of the religious community, was allegedly responsible for the deadly attack that also injured several other people, some seriously, according to German tabloid Bild

Footage (pictured) has emerged of the gunman firing bullets through the window of the church. The grainy video recorded from a distance appears to show the man walking up to a window of the church and firing off several shots into the building from what has been reported to be a pistol

Pictured: The Jehovah’s Witness ‘Kingdom Hall’ building in Hamburg – where eight people were shot dead on Thursday night – is seen on Friday morning guarded by police

In the video, the suspect can be seen standing at a window holding an object out in front of him, from which flashes are seen in the dark. The sound of shots can also be heard in the video, obtained by MailOnline, echoing across the built-up area.

In one of several bursts of gunfire, 15 continuous shots are heard ringing out as the purported gunman deliberately opens fire into the building.

The footage was taken at night from a distance – across a road and a car park – so the man is lost from view when he appears to enter the three-storey building.

‘We heard shots,’ one unidentified witness told reporters. ‘There were 12 continuous shots,’ he said. ‘Then we saw how people were taken away in black bags.’ The footage suggests there were many more than 12 shots fired by the gunman.

A large emergency response quickly descended on the building. In later footage, armed police were seen storming the church and working their way upstairs while pointing their guns up a stairwell.

The first officers at the scene found several lifeless bodies and seriously wounded people, police said. Officers heard a shot in the ‘upper part of the building’ before finding a body in the area where it rang out, they added.

Officers have ‘indications that a perpetrator may have been in the building and may be even among the dead,’ the police said in a statement on Friday morning.

Hamburg police are due to give an update at a press conference around midday (11am GMT), but earlier said they were still working to find out the man’s motive.

According to German magazine Spiegel, the suspect was a former member of the congregation that had gathered for a Bible study meeting at the centre on Thursday, in the city’s the GroßBorstel district.

Citing his website, Bild said Phillip F.  grew up in Kempten in the Allgäu region in a strictly religious family. After he left high school, he trained as a bank clerk, it said.

Pictured: Armed German police officers storm the church on Thursday night

Pictured: People are evacuated from the church after shots were fired at the building last night

Pictured: Bodies are carried out of a Jehovah’s Witness building in Hamburg, Germany on Friday, March 10, after the deadly shooting left eight people dead, including the gunman

He settled in Hamburg after studying business administration and after living abroad on a number of occasions. On his website, he says he is ‘multicultural’ and ‘a self-confessed European’, the tabloid added.

A spokesperson for Hamburg police could not confirm the details on the man’s identity, referring reporters to the press conference planned for 1100 GMT.

‘According to the current state of affairs, we assume that there is one perpetrator,’ police said in a message on Twitter.

‘Police activities in the surrounding area are being successively discontinued. Investigations into the motives behind the crime are continuing.’

Earlier, Germany’s DPA news agency, citing a reporter on the scene, said that residents in the city’s northern Alsterdorf district had received warnings on their mobile phones of a ‘life threatening situation’ and that streets had been sealed off.

Germany has been rocked by several attacks in recent years, both by jihadists and far-right extremists. Among the deadliest committed by Islamist extremists was a truck rampage at a Berlin Christmas market in December 2016 that killed 12 people.

The Tunisian attacker, a failed asylum seeker, was a supporter of the Islamic State jihadist group.

Europe’s most populous nation remains a target for jihadist groups in particular because of its participation in the anti-Islamic State coalition in Iraq and Syria.

Between 2013 and 2021, the number of Islamists considered dangerous in the country had multiplied by five to 615, according to interior ministry data.

But Germany has also been hit by several far-right assaults in recent years, sparking accusations that the government was not doing enough to stamp out neo-Nazi violence, or groups plotting attacks.

In the most recent shooting involving a site of worship, a far-right extremist attempted to force his way into a synagogue in Halle on Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest day, in October 2019. 

After failing to gain entry, he shot two people to death nearby.

And in February 2020, a far-right extremist shot dead 10 people and wounded five others in the central German city of Hanau.

Germany’s gun laws are more restrictive than those in the United States, but permissive compared to some European neighbors, and shootings are not unheard of.

After officers arrived, they heard a shot from an upper floor and found a person dead upstairs. Officials have said that they believe this to have been the perpetrator of the attack. Pictured: Special police inside the building in Hamburg, Germany, March 9

Pictured: Armed police gather at the scene of the shooting in Hamburg late on Thursday night

Pictured: Police guard the site where several people were killed in a church in a shooting the night before in Hamburg, northern Germany on March 10


Last year, an 18-year-old man opened fire in a packed lecture at Heidelberg University, killing one person and wounding three others before killing himself. 

In January 2020, a man shot dead six people including his parents and wounded two others in southwestern Germany, while a month later, a shooter who posted a racist rant online killed nine people near Frankfurt.

The German government announced plans last year to crack down on gun ownership by suspected extremists and to tighten background checks. 

Currently, anyone wanting to acquire a firearm must show that they are suited to do so, including by proving that they require a gun. Reasons can include being part of a sports shooting club or being a hunter.

Source: Read Full Article