German police said on Thursday that several people were killed in a shooting at a Jehovah’s Witness center in Hamburg, and the perpetrator is believed to be among the deceased. The first emergency calls came in around 2015 GMT when gunfire erupted in the building located in northern Hamburg, according to a police spokesperson. “Several people were seriously injured, some even fatally,” stated police on Twitter.
“At the moment, there is no reliable information on the motive of the crime,” they added, cautioning against speculation. Using a catastrophe warning app, police issued an “extreme danger” alert for the area, urging residents to stay indoors and avoid the location, while streets near the building were sealed off.
While police have not given an exact death toll, multiple German media outlets have reported that at least six people were killed. Upon arriving at the scene, the first officers discovered numerous lifeless bodies and seriously injured individuals, and heard a shot from the “upper part of the building” before discovering a body in that vicinity.
“We have no indications of a perpetrator on the run,” stated the police spokesperson, adding that officers have indications that the perpetrator could be among the deceased. The spokesperson also noted that the individual found in the upper part of the building could be the possible culprit.
Police stated that an event was taking place at the nondescript, three-story building on Thursday evening. According to local daily Hamburger Abendblatt, 17 unharmed people who were at the event were being assisted by the fire brigade. Jehovah’s Witnesses, a US Christian movement that advocates non-violence and is recognized for door-to-door evangelism, has around 175,000 members in Germany, including 3,800 in Hamburg.
Peter Tschentscher, the port city’s mayor, expressed his astonishment at the shooting on Twitter, conveying his condolences to the victims’ families and expressing his appreciation for the emergency services’ attempts to clarify the situation.