After the deadly shots during an event of Jehovah's Witnesses in Hamburg, the investigation into the bloody deed continues on Friday. Interior Senator Andy Grote (SPD) announced a press conference for noon, at which details of the crime and the status of the investigation should be announced.
Several people were killed or injured by gunfire during Thursday night's event. According to media reports, six or seven people died and at least eight others were injured. The perpetrator may be dead, but according to information from security circles, the police classify his act as a rampage. The background was initially unclear about seven hours after the fact.
The police initially did not comment on the exact number of deaths. "According to initial findings, there are several dead among the victims," said a police spokesman. The perpetrator may also be among the dead: "There are indications that it could be the perpetrator. But it is still unclear whether it really was the perpetrator." There is no indication of another or a volatile perpetrator.
An official hazard announcement by the Hamburg Interior Ministry spoke of an "extreme danger". "Around 9:00 p.m. today, one or more unknown perpetrators shot people in a church," the text said. The police were informed by telephone about the shots at around 9:15 p.m.
Resident: "There were about four shot periods"
A neighbor reported several shots at the Jehovah's Witnesses event. "There were about four shot periods. In these periods, several shots were always fired, approximately 20 seconds to one minute apart," reported student Lara Bauch. Later, people were carried onto the street by police officers on their hands and feet.
In the early morning, the police secured further tracks in front of, behind and in the three-storey building. Inside the building, investigators measured the crime scene with a 3D scanner. The entrance was covered with a privacy screen. The extensive barriers were initially dismantled in the morning and the road was released again.
Hamburg's Mayor Peter Tschentscher (SPD) was dismayed by the shots during an event of Jehovah's Witnesses. "The reports from Alsterdorf / Groß Borstel are shocking," wrote Tschentscher on Twitter. "My deepest sympathy goes to the relatives of the victims. The emergency services are working flat out to track down the perpetrators and clarify the background." Tschentscher called on citizens to heed the police's instructions.
Hamburg's second mayor Katharina Fegebank was also shocked. "I am shocked by the shooting in Groß Borstel, in which several people died
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) described the fatal shots as a brutal act of violence. "Bad news out
"Several people have been victims of a brutal crime in Hamburg. Much is still unclear. We are shaken. We pray together," wrote the Archdiocese of Hamburg on Thursday evening on Twitter. It went on to say: "We are with those who are hurt and with those who have lost their lives."
Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) was also "shaken". "In this difficult hour, my thoughts are with the victims and their relatives, with the community members and also with the emergency services," said Faeser of the German Press Agency.
EU Interior Commissioner Ylva Johansson spoke on Twitter of a "shocking act". Her thoughts are with the victims and their families. At the same time, the Swede thanked the Hamburg police, who reacted "immediately with incredible courage".
Jehovah's Witnesses - Background
The Jehovah's Witnesses are a Christian community with their own interpretation of the Bible. The followers believe in Jehovah as "almighty God and Creator" and are said to submit to strict rules. They are convinced that a new world is at hand and that they will be saved as a chosen church. Jehovah's Witnesses have around eight million members worldwide. The "world headquarters" is in New York. The German community, with fewer than 200,000 members, is one of the largest in Europe.
Background to the crime scene
The crime scene is a three-story commercial building located on a wide street and next to a painting company and a construction site with three large cranes. Around 15,000 people live in Hamburg-Alsterdorf, the district in the Hamburg-Nord district is around three square kilometers in size. In addition to Alsterdorf, there are twelve other districts in the district. Numerous companies are based in Hamburg-Alsterdorf. The Alster River runs through the district.
The police have set up an information portal. "Photos and videos of the crime or relevant events in this context can be uploaded to the website https://hh.zettelportal.de/," said the Hamburg police on Twitter.