An inconclusive online research by the Hamburg weapons authority on the reliability of the later gunman Philipp F. caused discussions five days after the bloody deed with eight dead. While Hamburg's chief of police, Ralf Martin Meyer, is still unable to identify any mistakes by the weapons authorities, opposition politicians in the city council are calling for the procedure to be clarified.
The background is a book by Philipp F., in which he expresses confused religious theses, also in connection with the Holocaust. An anonymous whistleblower drew attention to a possible mental illness and danger of the 35-year-old two months before the crime and cited the book as evidence.
No abnormalities found
Two officials from the weapons authority followed the instructions but did not find any abnormalities in the sports shooter, said Meyer. Among other things, they had carried out an unannounced check in Philipp F.'s apartment and checked that the weapon and ammunition were properly stored.
In preparation for the visit, they also researched the book on the Internet, said Meyer. A Google search, in which they only entered the name of the later perpetrator and the search term "book", did not lead to any results. According to the police, the book has been sold on the Amazon trading platform since December 2022.
The officials had exhausted the legally possible framework in the review, said Meyer. In this respect, he could not "blame" them. However, he acknowledged that the contents of the book, had it been evaluated, might have given rise to further action by the weapons authorities.
"It is correct that we critically question such an act, the weapons authority has done everything right here," said Interior Senator Andy Grote (SPD). "After everything I've heard so far, I have no reason to doubt that the work here has been done properly." Grote once again campaigned for tightening gun laws. Among other things, a psychological report must be mandatory for everyone who applies for a gun license.
Criticism of the weapons authority
The call from Grote and Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) for a tightening of the gun law makes sense in principle, "but is not the focus of the Hamburg case because the existing law has not even been exhausted," said the interior expert of the CDU parliamentary group, Dennis Gladiator . "A simple internet search would have been enough to find the book full of hate tirades and anti-Semitic statements written by gunman Philipp F. on his website or in online shops."
A psychological examination of Philipp F. was omitted due to insufficient research by the weapons authority, said the interior expert of the left-wing faction in the Hamburg Parliament, Deniz Celik. "The question is whether the terrible act could not have been prevented if the authorities had done proper research." He pointed out that Philipp F. had also advertised the book on his website, which was known to the authorities.
For the FDP MP Anna von Treuenfels-Frowein it is incomprehensible that the officials of the weapons authority did not ask for the book when they visited the marksman's apartment. If this had happened, "Philipp F. would certainly have been checked more intensively," she said. "I don't think the statement that an anonymous tip is sufficient to ensure a legally compliant review is unacceptable."
The AfD spoke out against "hasty demands for tightening of gun laws". Better equipment and exchange between the authorities and the police are necessary, said their parliamentary group leader Dirk Nockemann.
funeral service on Sunday
Meanwhile, the victims are to be commemorated at an ecumenical service on Sunday evening. The funeral service is being organized and currently being prepared by the Working Group of Christian Churches, the North Church and the Archdiocese of Hamburg, said Senate spokesman Marcel Schweitzer. A representative of Jehovah's Witnesses was outraged that neither the faith community nor the relatives of the victims were involved in the planning. Schweitzer stressed that Jehovah's Witnesses would be invited to the celebration.
Philipp F. shot seven people, including an unborn child, after a Jehovah's Witnesses service in Hamburg-Alsterdorf last Thursday evening. Then he killed himself. Nine people were injured - seven of them lived in Hamburg, two in Schleswig-Holstein.
Six injured people are still being treated in the hospital on Tuesday. One of them is still in acute danger, said the deputy head of Hamburg state security, Uwe Stockmann.