March 10 (UPI) — German police said in a press conference Friday that eight people were killed in a mass shooting at Jehovah’s Witness church in Hamburg on Thursday.
Police said among the dead were four men, two women and the unborn baby of a pregnant woman. The mother who had carried the child for about seven months survived the shooting. Authorities confirmed that all were German citizens but were not related to the shooter.
Police said the suspect, who they identified as Philipp F, took his own life once officers entered the building, running up a flight of steps to another floor from where the shooting took place.
The 35-year-old suspect was a former member of the congregation who left 18 months ago over “ill feelings” but had no prior criminal record, police said.
Authorities said they received an anonymous letter stating that the suspect was suffering from a mental illness and should not be allowed to have a weapon. However, they followed up on the letter by making direct contact with the suspect in February and determined that he had not broken any laws.
The suspect fired about 100 rounds during the rampage, including 10 shots he fired into a car with a woman inside. The woman escaped and contacted law enforcement, police said.
Authorities said during a second search of the suspect’s apartment, they discovered 15 magazines, 200 rounds of ammunition, laptops and smartphones.
Jehovah’s Witness confirmed to UPI that the church where the shooting took place was one of its Kingdom Halls.
“We are deeply saddened by the deadly attack on our fellow worshippers,” David Semonian, spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses, said. “The congregation elders in the local area are providing pastoral care for those affected by this event.”
Police said there was “no confirmed information on the motive for the crime” and discouraged the sharing of unconfirmed theories.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, a former mayor of Hamburg, expressed his condolences on social media.
“Several members of a Jehovah’s community fell victim to a brutal act of violence last night. My thoughts are with them and their loved ones,” Scholz said.