The motives for the attack are unknown, although for the moment the Hamburg prosecutor’s office said it did not see a “terrorist” motive behind the massacre.
Of course, the attacker could have suffered from psychiatric disorders.
The man, who had no criminal record, “had a rage against members of religious congregations, particularly Jehovah’s Witnesses and his former employer,” police explained.
The police received an “anonymous letter” in January, stating that Philipp F. suffered from a “psychiatric illness”, not confirmed by any doctor because he “refused to consult” a specialist.
The attack happened while praying
The assailant forced his way into the building, located on a large avenue in this northern city of Germany. According to the publication Der Spiegel, there were about fifty people inside, gathered for a prayer session.
An “act of brutal violence”, say witnesses
Security forces were alerted to the incident around 9:15 p.m. (8:15 p.m. GMT) after witnesses heard a series of shots in the three-story building located in the Gross Borstel neighborhood, a police spokesman said.
“I heard shots, and I recognized them right away because I have lived in countries at war,” he told AFP a woman in her forties who lives nearby and wanted to remain anonymous.
“It lasted several minutes, there were shots and then a pause, then more shots, and another pause,” he said.
“The police arrived very quickly, maybe 4 or 5 minutes after the shots were fired,” said Anetta, another neighbor. “People have died, I can’t find words. It’s a catastrophe.”
According to the website of this organization in Germanythere are 175,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in the country, 3,800 of them in Hamburg.
The institution was founded in the 19th century in the United States. Its members consider themselves heirs of primitive Christianity.