A former Jehovah’s Witness and self-styled business coach has been confirmed as the gunman behind a shooting at a Hamburg church on Thursday that left six people dead and many more injured.
German authorities have identified the man who stormed a Kingdom’s Hall belonging to the religious group as Phillip F, a 35-year-old.
They say that he left the congregation 18 months previously after a fall out with other members.
The Telegraph has identified the killer as Philip Fusz, freelance consultant whose business website describes him as an expert in the finance and energy sectors.
On the website, he offers exorbitantly priced consultancy for a daily fee of €250,000, stating that “the fee incorporates the fact that my work should generate you a leverage or value added of at least 2.5 million EUR”.
According to his own account, Mr Fusz grew up in a strictly religious household in the Alps before studying business in Munich.
German authorities have ruled out a terrorist attack or any political motive.
Police confirmed that Mr Fusz used a handgun in his attack that he had owned legally since December through his membership in a local gun club.
They also stated that the city gun authority received an anonymous tip-off in January warning that Mr Fusz was mentally unstable and that he harboured hatred for the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
But authorities who checked up on him last month did not take any further action after they found that he kept his gun in a safe according to regulations and that he showed no other signs of being unstable.
Germany has been left in shock by the crime, which is one of the deadliest in recent memory.
The gunman attacked a Kingdom’s Hall and shot dozens of people before police were able to stop him.
Among the dead was a woman who was seven months pregnant, and her unborn child. Of the 50 people at the service only 20 escaped unharmed.
Condolences for the victims came pouring in on Friday.
“Almost every single member of the congregation has been affected in some way by this awful crime,” said Michael Tsifidaris, a spokesman for the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“Many of them are traumatised and are now receiving the best possible therapy and support,” he added.
Olaf Scholz, the German Chancellor and a native of the city, said that: “My thoughts are with the victims and their families. And with the security forces who have endured a difficult mission.”
Hamburg authorities have said though that luck, and the quick reactions of officers, prevented a much greater tragedy.
“We can thank the police that many more people weren’t killed. They were able to quickly separate the attacker from his victims and save many lives,” Andy Grote, Hamburg’s interior minister, told the press on Friday.
A newly formed Swat team trained to deal with gun attackers happened to be in the vicinity at the time and was able to reach the scene within minutes.
After they entered the building, the attacker fled upstairs, where he shot himself. Police found him lifeless with a handgun on the floor next to him.
Police have described a night of unimaginable horror in which the attacker first shot wildly at a car outside the church before unloading magazines through the window of the building.
Once inside he continued to shoot down his victims, repeatedly pausing to reload his gun. Officers found nine used magazines at the scene as well as 20 more in a rucksack.
In the initial confusion, police suspected that two gunmen were at work and that one had fled the scene.
The people of the city received warnings via an app on their phones to stay indoors while police were deployed to other Jehovah’s Witnesses buildings to make sure that they were secure.
The crime is likely to stoke an ongoing debate around Germany’s gun possession laws.
At the beginning of this year the government announced plans to tighten laws around semi-automatic weapons after prosecutors uncovered a surreal plot by a group of monarchists to storm the German parliament.
As unlikely as the plot was to have succeeded, it was supported by former army officers and a gun trader.
Meanwhile, the deadliest shooting spree in modern German history was carried out in 2020 by a far-Right extremist who killed 11 people at shisha bars on the outskirts of Frankfurt with legally held handguns.