SHOOTING HAMBURG. 7 people died and 8 others were injured in the shooting that targeted a center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Hamburg (Germany). The assailant would have acted alone and would have committed suicide according to the police.
[Updated Mar 10, 2023 2:25 PM] "Bloodbath". These are the words of the German newspaper Bild to describe the shooting that took place in Hamburg, Germany's second largest city, on the night of Thursday March 9. The attack on a religious center of Jehovah's Witnesses in the district of GroßBorstel left seven dead "including an unborn child", according to several German authorities, including Hamburg's senator for interior affairs, Andry Grote. , at a press conference. The victims are all Jehovah's Witnesses, a community with which the assailant would have been in conflict according to the first elements of the investigation. According to the police, there are "no clues" of a "terrorist" motive at this stage.
The massacre took place around 9 p.m. and "the first forces were on the spot at 9:08 p.m.", and "entered the building very quickly", specified the senator from Hamburg. During the intervention, the suspect fled to the first floor of the building, where a lifeless body was found by the police. Authorities believe the body is that of the "suspect who committed suicide". If in the first hours of the investigation, the presence of another assailant could not be ruled out, the police "assume now that there is only one culprit".
The attack took place around 9 p.m. according to witnesses in a building that houses a religious center of Jehovah's Witnesses. Worshipers gather at this place of worship every other Thursday, beginning at 7 p.m., for prayer sessions and Bible study. They were about fifty during the attack according to information from the newspaper Der Spiegel quoted by AFP.
The killing would have taken place between the ground floor and the first floor of the building and a total of four bursts of gunfire were heard by witnesses and neighbors of the place. The detonations rang out with 20 seconds to 1 minute intervals according to several testimonies and the police themselves heard a shot on the floor of the building during their intervention. This appears to be the last shot from the assailant who allegedly committed suicide.
The shooter acted alone according to the police who spotted "no indication of a fugitive assailant". The 35-year-old suspect "would have committed suicide" authorities said at the press conference on Friday, March 10. He is one of those who died and was found at the crime scene. The first elements indicate that the man was a former follower of Jehovah's Witnesses and was in conflict with this community, which confirms the information of the newspaper Der Spiegel. The media added that the suspect was armed with a pistol, an accuracy not confirmed by the police. To understand and have a precise idea of the chronology of events, the police have put a space online where witnesses to the scene can share images, videos or tell what they saw.
At least seven people including an unborn child were killed in the shooting in Hamburg, German authorities confirmed during a press conference on Friday March 10 at noon. The deceased are all of German nationality: four men and two women aged 33 to 60 and a 28-week-old fetus. It takes an eighth death with the death of the suspect.
The attack also caused other casualties and "eight people were injured, including four whose lives are in danger". All were taken to hospital for treatment. Among the victims, six are German, one is Ugandan and the last is Ukrainian. “A hotline has been set up for those affected or their relatives,” the authorities said.
"There is no reliable information on the motive for the crime" at this stage according to the police, who ask residents and the media "not to share unverified assumptions and/or spread rumours". The authorities remain cautious about the course of events and the motivations of the shooter but do not rule out any leads, not even that of an attack. Germany is vigilant against a double terrorist threat: jihadism and right-wing extremism. The ram truck attack that claimed twelve lives and claimed responsibility for by the Islamic State (IS) in 2016 is still remembered by the Germans, especially since the country is one of the targets of the jihadists because of the German commitment. in the coalition against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Deadly attacks by right-wing extremists targeting community or religious venues have also increased in recent years.
Since dawn, police measures have been gradually lifted. The Federal Office for Civil Protection also lifted, around 3 a.m. (local time), the official danger alert triggered in the event of an attack and supposed to dissuade residents from leaving their homes. However, the authorities still recommend avoiding the GroßBorstel district, north of Hamburg.
The mayor of Hamburg reacted on Twitter in the evening. "The reports from Alsterdorf/GroßBorstel are shocking. My deepest condolences to the families of the victims. The emergency services are working hard to find the perpetrators and clarify the background," said Peter Tschentscher.
Friday morning, the day after the shooting in Hamburg, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz denounces "a brutal act of violence". While the community of Jehovah's Witnesses described its sadness in a statement: "The religious community is deeply saddened by the terrible killing perpetrated against its members in a Kingdom Hall in Hamburg after a religious service".