A seven-month pregnant woman and her baby – a girl – are among the eight fatalities of the shooting recorded last night at a Jehovah’s Witnesses temple in Hamburg, including the attacker. In addition, eight other people were injured and four of them remain in serious condition. The events occurred on Friday night when about fifty Jehovah’s Witnesses were gathered celebrating a religious service. The speed with which the special forces acted prevented the tragedy from having an even greater scope.

The perpetrator of the massacre, a 35-year-old German with a weapons permit, committed suicide when he found himself cornered by special police forces. He had no prior history and his metal status was apparently stable. In February, he was subjected to an unannounced weapons check by authorities as part of routine checks and his license was kept. The assailant has been identified as Philippe F. and had been a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses until a year and a half ago. It is unknown if he was expelled from it or left it by choice. In any case, according to the statements collected by the Prosecutor’s Office among the witnesses “he did not do it in a good manner.”

The events, which have shocked the country, happened quickly. In the reconstruction presented at a press conference by the Hamburg Interior authorities, the tragedy started at 9:00 p.m. The first alarms came just four minutes later and from the hand of a woman injured in her own car, which she had parked in front of the Jehovah’s Witnesses building. When the attacker left the vehicle to access the building, through one of her windows, the woman drove to a closed gas station and asked for help. An eyewitness, who captured some images from his house with his mobile phone, explained that he heard at least 25 shots after the man entered the building and, a few minutes later, a single more shot.

The alarm was raised. At 9:08 p.m. and thanks to the fact that a team of the special police forces was in the vicinity, although their shift was about to end, the agents broke into the building but not before blowing the locks, since all the doors were closed. As they proceeded, they heard gunshots and screams.

At the same time, the Hamburg Prosecutor’s Office contacted the Federal Prosecutor’s Office in anticipation that it was an act of terrorism, a hypothesis that was later ruled out.

The first image of the agents upon entering the building was of the dead, with numerous bullet wounds, an injured man lying on the ground with a firearm and another running upstairs, the first of the three in the building. The first hypothesis was that they were two aggressors. It was not so.

When the police, always with the sound of shots in the background, agreed to pursue the individual who was fleeing to the first floor, they found him dead. He took his own life.

The account of the police operation carried out by the authorities of the Interior and the Hamburg Prosecutor’s Office has been meticulous, although there are still issues to be resolved and among them the motivation of the aggressor to carry out an unprecedented massacre in that city.

In the search of the attacker’s house that the Prosecutor’s Office ordered immediately after verifying his identity, only the sports weapons already declared were found, in addition to nine chambers and about 200 cartridges. The seized computers and mobile phones could shed light on a tragedy that has been described as “shocking” and received unanimous condemnation from the political class, including Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

“My thoughts are with (the victims) and their families. And with the security forces who have faced a difficult operation,” Scholz wrote on his Twitter account. President Walter -Steinmeier reacted “with great horror” and also thanks to the emergency services “I am sure that many people in Germany feel sincere condolences in these hours. I wish the injured a speedy recovery,” he added. Numerous national and international politicians also reacted with disgust and sadness at the event, including French President Emmanuel Macron. “Sent France’s condolences to the families of the victims. Our thoughts are with our German friends,” he wrote on Twitter.

Jehovah’s Witnesses, with some 180,000 active members in Germany, have also expressed their dismay at what happened in a statement. “The community is deeply saddened by the horrific attack on its members at a Kingdom Hall in Hamburg after a service. Our deepest condolences to the families of the victims and to the traumatized eyewitnesses,” the letter reads.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are a Christian group with their own interpretation of the Bible. Its rules are strict and the community is very closed, even though its first objective is the evangelization of the world. They are legally recognized as denomination, but they are haunted by a cult reputation.

According to the criteria of The Trust Project