AP Photo/Markus Schreiber
By Danny Weller
On March 9, eight people were shot to death at a Jehovah’s Witnesses religious centre. Four men and two women were killed, as well as another woman's unborn baby. The eighth victim of the massacre was the shooter who turned the gun on himself after completing his rampage.
Eight others were injured in the shootings, with several rushed to hospital. Many are still in serious condition, as members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses do not accept blood transfusions
The community stated it was “deeply saddened” by the attack, and that “our deepest sympathies go out to the families of the victims as well as to the traumatized eyewitnesses.”
According to police, the attacker, Philipp Fusz (35), was armed with a semi-automatic handgun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Just before 9 p.m., he entered the car park of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ building, where he opened fire at a witness's car, who survived the hail of bullets and made an emergency call to the police. Fusz then turned his attention to the service, firing through windows on the 36 people attending the service before entering the building, “constantly using [his] firearms.”
When the police arrived on the scene and secured the first floor of the building, a single shot was heard from the second floor, where Fusz’s body and weapon were found.
In a press report, Chief of Operations Matthias Tresp stated that it was a “lucky coincidence” that a special unit of the Hamburg riot police were in the vicinity to respond to the call, who formed a part of the almost 1,000 officers that were deployed to the scene.
In a raid on Fusz’s apartment, 15 more magazines and 200 additional rounds of ammunition were found in Fusz’s apartment; with ideological and materials being seized at the scene.
Fusz had apparently developed psychological problems and a serious hatred towards the Jehovah’s Witnesses, which he had himself belonged to until 2021. According to Hamburg’s Interior Senator (state minister) Andy Grote , Fusz left the religious group “voluntarily, but not on good terms.”
Since leaving the group Fusz evangelised a doom-filled religious world view, riddled with elements of right wing extremism.
In a pamphlet published in late 2022 titled “The Truth About God, Jesus Christ and Satan: A New Reflected View of Epochal Dimensions,” Fusz reportedly put forward anti-semitic and pro-Nazi messages. Apparently Fusz praised Adolf Hitler as a “human instrument of Jesus Christ” and the persecution of Jews an “act of heaven.”
Fusz was known to police, as Hamburg Police Chief Ralf Martin Meyer stated that police received anonymous letter in January asking them to “check Fusz’s behaviour and weapons permit.” Fusz was visited in February by firearms’ authorities, but only received a verbal warning for improper storage of ammunition. Meyer maintains there was no publicly According to Meyer, there were no publicly available indications that Fusz was an extremist.
His pamphlet was reportedly available on Amazon and other online platforms until news of the massacre broke.
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