March 9 (UPI) — Several people were killed after a gunman opened fire in a Jehovah’s Witness church in the German city of Hamburg on Thursday, police said.
The Hamburg Police Department said in a statement that several others were also injured after the shots were fired inside the church on Deelböge Street in the Gross Borstel district next to Alsterdorf at around 9 p.m.
Among the deceased is believed to be the suspected gunman, police said. Local Hamburger Morgenpost reported that at least six people were killed and more than a dozen were injured.
“We found a lifeless person in a community center in #GroßBorstel who we believe could be a perpetrator,” Hamburg Police tweeted.
“In order to rule out the involvement of other perpetrators, we carry out checks and search extensively.”
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.”
Little was known late Thursday about the circumstances surrounding the shooting, and police have asked witnesses to the crime to contact them. An Internet portal has been established where photos and videos of the shooting can be uploaded to the authorities.
“So far, there is no reliable information on the motive for the crime. We ask that you do not share unsecured assumptions and/or spread rumors,” police said.
The federal government had issued a warning that has since been lifted for residents in the area remain where they were and to not go outside.
Police said law enforcement measures in the area were being gradually discontinued while investigations into a motive for the crime were ongoing.
The U.S. Consulate in Hamburg tweeted it was aware of the “violet incident” and urged people to avoid Gross Borstel district.
“The reports from Alsterdorf / Groß Borstel are shocking,” Hamburg Mayor Peter Tschentscher said in a statement. “My deepest condolences to the families of the victims.”
There are some 170,490 practitioners of the U.S.-founded religion in the European nation of around 83 million. According to the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ website, there are more than 2,000 congregations throughout the country.