Two months before the suspected Hamburg shooter Philipp Fusz carried out a mass murder at a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Alsterdorf quarter, killing six adults and an unborn child, and injuring eight others, the police apparently received a tip-off about him but did not find a reason to take away his weapon.
Philipp, a German citizen, and a former Jehovah’s Witness shot himself after police arrived at the hall. About a year and a half before the shooting, police said he had left the congregation “voluntarily, but apparently not on good terms. A motive for the attack was still to be determined.
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On February 7, officers visited Philipp’s apartment after receiving an anonymous tip back in January. The tip raised concerns about his mental state. The tip claimed the man “bore particular anger toward religious believers, in particular toward Jehovah’s Witnesses and his former employer,” Hamburg’s police chief, Ralf Martin Meyer said.
Philipp is an amateur marksman who possessed a legally-held semi-automatic Heckler & Koch pistol as well as a permit for the weapon. Since he did not have any criminal record or any links to terrorism that would have automatically prevented him from owning a weapon, the law enforcement officials never found a reason to take away his firearm.
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“The bottom line is that an anonymous tip in which someone says they’re worried a person might have a psychological illness, isn’t in itself a basis for (such) measures,” the city police chief said.
In a statement, the Jehovah’s Witness community in Germany said it was “deeply saddened by the horrific attack on its members at the Kingdom Hall in Hamburg after a religious service”. The death toll from the mass shooting may rise. “We are speechless in view of this violence,” Scholz, a former Hamburg mayor, said at an event in Munich. “We are mourning those whose lives were taken so brutally.”