Many dead in fatal Jehovah’s Witness shooting
In Hamburg, a city in northern Germany, a shooting at a Jehovah’s Witness meeting place has resulted in a number of fatalities.
Police claim that the shooter, who is believed to be dead, operated alone. If the attacker is one of the six or seven fatalities listed by German media, it is unclear.
“There is no reliable information on the motive at this time,” according to police.
The shooting on Deelböge Street in the city’s Gross Borstel neighborhood also resulted in several injuries.
Investigations are ongoing, according to the police, who say they found a dead person at the scene who they think may have been the perpetrator.
They were called around 21:15 (20:15 GMT) to reports that shots had been fired in the building, police spokesman Holger Vehren said.
Officers who went in found people who “may have been seriously injured by firearms, some of them fatally”, he said.
“The officers also heard a shot from the upper part of the building and went upstairs, where they also found a person. So far we have no indications that any perpetrators fled.”
He said police had not yet identified the victims and work at the crime scene continued.
“All we know is that several people have died here, several people have been injured, they have been taken to hospitals,” Mr Vehren said.
The reasons behind the shooting were “still completely unclear”.
Forensic experts have been working here through the night. They can still be seen in their white suits inside the brightly lit interior of the meeting house.
It is thought people had gathered here, possibly for a Bible study, when the shooting began at around 21:00 (20:00 GMT).
A neighbour said she had heard several bursts of gunfire and, later, had seen police officers carrying people out of the building.
Hamburg’s Mayor Peter Tschentscher has spoken of his shock and offered his condolences to the families of the victims.
An alert was sent on the federal warning app, NINAwarn, at around 21:00 (20:00 GMT) telling locals that “one or more unknown perpetrators shot at people in a church”.
Residents nearby were told not to leave their homes amid the ongoing police operation.
Footage showed police escorting people out of the meeting hall, some to ambulances.
Hamburg’s Interior Minister, Andy Grote, said on Twitter that police special forces and a large number of officers had been deployed to the scene.
Police have appealed to the public not to share assumptions or to spread rumours.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are members of a Christian-based religious movement.
The denomination was founded in the USA towards the end of the 19th Century, under the leadership of Charles Taze Russell. The headquarters of the movement is in New York.