On Thursday evening, shots were fired inside a building used by Jehovah’s Witnesses in the northern German city of Hamburg, killing or wounding an unspecified number of people, police said. The Hamburg city government said the shooting took place in the Gross Borstel district.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many people were injured, but Hamburg police tweeted, “Many are seriously injured, some critically.”
“We know that many people have died here; many people have been injured and taken to hospitals,” said police spokesman Holger Wehren..
He said he had no information on the severity of the injuries sustained by the injured.
Local media footage showed a large police presence outside the modern three-story Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Wehren said police were alerted to the shooting around 9:15 p.m. and immediately responded to the scene. After officers arrived and found people with gunshot wounds on the ground floor, they heard gunshots coming from the upper floor, he said, possibly from a single shooter. He said the police did not have to use their guns.
Wehren said there was no sign of the shooter fleeing, and it appears the perpetrator may be in the building or among the dead. After early Friday morning, police said they were still working to verify that no more criminals were involved Then said It turned out that there was a sniper.
A motive was not immediately known, police said. Wehren said “the background is still not entirely clear.”
Police did not have any information on what was going on in the building when the shooting occurred.
“The reports from Alsterdorf / Gross Borstel are shocking,” Hamburg Mayor Peter Tchentscher tweeted. My deepest condolences to the bereaved families.
Laura Bach, a student who lives nearby, said “there were about four periods of gunfire,” German news agency DPA reported. “There were always multiple shots during these periods, roughly 20 seconds to a minute apart,” he said.
She said she looked out the window and saw a man running from the ground floor of the Jehovah’s Witnesses hall to the second floor.
Gregor Miesbach, who lives within sight of the building, filmed himself entering the building through a window, alerted by the sound of the shots. Then shots are heard from inside. The figure then emerges from the hall, is seen in the courtyard, and then fires several more shots inside.
Miesbach told German television news agency NonstopNews that he had heard at least 25 sightings. After police arrived, a final shot followed about five minutes later, he said.