Hamburg police failed to seize guns from mass shooter despite tip-off

German authorities failed to act on an anonymous warning about gunman Philipp Fusz. Despite a probe by gun control officials, the 35-year-old freelance business consultant managed to persuade officers last month to allow him to keep a hold of his firearm.

Fusz went on to kill seven of his former fellow churchgoers during a brutal shooting at the Jehovah’s Witnesses hall in Hamburg on Thursday. 

The alarm was reportedly raised about Fusz amid concern he harboured anger toward members of the religious community after quitting the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

His victims four men and two women ranged in age from 33 to 60, an unborn baby was also killed during the rampage but the mother survived. 

The city’s first mass shooting also saw eight people injured of which four are considered serious. 

The majority of those injured in the attack are German nations, while one is from Uganda and the other Ukrainian. 

Fusz had attended the Jehovah’s Witness church up until eighteen months ago.

After carrying out the killing spree Fusz would go on to turn his weapon on himself as police special forces closed in. 

Hamburg’s head of state security Thomas Radszuweit said: “He is a former member of Jehovah’s Witnesses who left the community voluntarily about a year-and-a-half ago, but apparently not on good terms.”

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Fusz legally possessed a Heckler & Koch P30 handgun having held a marksman permit since December 2022.

However, the anonymous letter sent to cops had warned Fusz may be suffering from an undiagnosed psychological illness.

The letter also warned he held a “particular anger against religious members or against the Jehovah’s Witnesses and his former employer.”

A visit the following month to Fusz’apartment in the Altona district of Hamburg saw officers give him a verbal warning for not storing his gun safely but no further action was taken.

Germany’s gun laws are more restrictive than those in the United States but permissive compared with some European neighbours, and shootings are not unheard of.

Last year, an 18-year-old man opened fire in a packed lecture at Heidelberg University, killing one person and wounding three others before killing himself. In 2020, the nation saw two high-profile shootings, one that killed six people and another that took nine lives.

In the most recent shooting involving a site of worship, a far-right extremist attempted to force his way into a synagogue in Halle on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur in 2019. After failing to gain entry, he shot two people to death nearby.

The German government announced plans last year to crack down on gun ownership by suspected extremists and to tighten background checks. Currently, anyone who wants to acquire a firearm must show that they are fit to do so, including by proving that they require a gun.

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