Jehovah’s Witnesses shocked by Hamburg attack, thanks to police
In a statement, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany confirmed that the man the police identified as the gunman was a former member who left the church voluntarily two years ago.
“We do not know the cause of this terrible crime,” he said. “Like the rest of the world, we were shocked and appalled when we read (…) that the gunman allegedly harbors a ‘special anger’ not only towards Jehovah’s Witnesses but also towards other religious groups and his former employer.”
Officials identified the shooter only as 35-year-old Philipp F., according to German privacy laws, and said he was leaving the church “apparently not on good terms.” an investigation into his motives is ongoing.
A website registered in the man’s name said he grew up in a “religious evangelical family” in the Bavarian state town of Kempten.
Police said Philipp F. had not legally obtained a gun in December and that officers visited him two months later after an anonymous tip suggested he might be psychologically unfit to own the weapon and he was angry with Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Officers found the man cooperative and determined there was no reason to remove his weapon, police said.
In their statement, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany expressed their deep sympathy to the families of the victims and the survivors, and said that it was aimed at providing pastoral care to everyone on the the accident took its toll.
“At the same time, our sincere gratitude goes to the police, who prevented even more deaths and injuries thanks to their quick intervention,” he said.
The Hamburg congregation that was serving at the time of the attack now has around 60 members and is among 47 in the port city, which has nearly 4,000 members of the group, according to the – report
Jehovah’s Witnesses claim a worldwide membership of around 8.7 million, with around 170,000 in Germany. The religious movement was founded in the United States in the 19th century and is headquartered in Warwick, New York.
Members are known for their evangelistic efforts which include knocking on doors and distributing literature in public squares. The group’s practices include refusing to bear arms, receive blood transfusions, salute the national flag or participate in a secular government.