03/10/2023 By Isabella Kohn
A German gunman took the lives of six people and wounded eight more before taking his own at a Jehovah’s Witnesses service on Thursday. Police revealed he had been a part of the congregation about six months ago and left out of his volition.
The suspect, now identified as 35-year-old Phillipp F., legally owned a semi-automatic handgun and fired over a hundred shots. A special operations unit was nearby the service hall while the incident occurred. Once they arrived, they found people with gunshot wounds and heard one last gunshot on a different floor, separate from where the victims were found. Officers found the person to be “fatally wounded” and was set apart from the congregation members as the suspected assailant, said Police Spokesman Holger Vehrenpon. Officials said the officers’ arrival may have prevented more people from losing their lives.
Authorities haven’t given a motive for the incident but mentioned that an anonymous tip about the suspect was received in January. The tip claimed the assailant had expressed anger toward the congregation and was “psychologically unfit to own a gun,” said the Associated Press.
According to AP, Hamburg Police Chief Ralf Martin Meyer said the suspect cooperated when officers visited him and that they did not find sufficient cause to confiscate the weapon. Meyer explained that an anonymous tip showing worry about someone having a psychological illness is insufficient for authorities to take away someone’s firearm.
Last year, the German Government announced plans to strengthen background checks to minimize inadequate firearm ownership. Currently, the law requires individuals to demonstrate they are fit to own a firearm and require one. Interior Secretary Nancy Faser acknowledged the need for changes to the background check process, the Associated Press said. Faser said a bill would soon go through the legislative process with the goal of requiring gun owners to receive psychological tests.