Several People Killed in Hamburg Church Shooting, German Police Say

(Bloomberg) -- A gunman killed seven people and himself and wounded eight others in a shooting at a building used by Jehovah’s Witnesses in the northern German city of Hamburg, an incident Chancellor Olaf Scholz condemned as “a brutal act of violence.”

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Police were called to the scene at about 9:15 p.m. local time on Thursday after people nearby heard shots. After armed officers arrived, the perpetrator fled to the first floor and was found dead after apparently turning the gun on himself, city officials said at a news conference Friday.

An unborn child was among the fatalities and four of the injured are in a critical condition, police said, adding that the gunman’s motive remained unclear but was unlikely to have been political.

The man was a 35-year-old German citizen who has been living in the city since 2014 and was a former member of the Jehovah’s Witness community, local media quoted Hamburg Interior Minister Andy Grote as saying.

Scholz, a former mayor of the port city, said his government was “stunned” by the violence. “We mourn those who were so brutally torn from life,” he told reporters during a visit to a trade fair in Munich.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said she was “shocked by the terrible act of violence” and an investigation is being conducted “at full speed.”

Germany has relatively strict gun controls, but has suffered several shooting attacks by lone gunmen in recent years.

In February 2020, nine people, who authorities said all had a “migration background,” were killed at two different bars in Hanau, before the suspected assailant and his mother were found dead at a nearby home.

A 17-year-old school pupil in the southern town of Winnenden shot dead 15 people in 2009 before killing himself during a gunfight with police.

And in 2016, a teenager went on a rampage in Munich, shooting dead nine people at a shopping mall and then killing himself after a siege lasting several hours.

--With assistance from Arne Delfs.

(Updates with details from authorities throughout)

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