Suspect arrested in deadly Netherlands shooting, but motive is unclear

The attack on a Netherlands tram left three dead and five wounded

By Annette Birschel

UTRECHT, Netherlands — Dutch police have arrested the man suspected of opening fire on a tram in the city of Utrecht, killing three people on Monday.

Five other people were wounded in the attack, with three of them in critical condition, Mayor Jan van Zanen said.

It remains unclear what motivated the alleged shooter, identified by police as 37-year-old Turkish-born Gokmen Tanis, to gun down people inside the tram before fleeing the scene.

Dutch Interior Ministry officials and Utrecht police said it had yet to be determined if he was motivated by terrorism or a private feud.

Tanis had been previously known to Dutch law enforcement, the ministry said.

“If there was a terrorist motive, then that will be found out,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Monday.

Police did not immediately give a clear picture of the suspect’s movements or say where Tanis had been arrested and what led them to him. The Dutch broadcaster NOS reported he was taken into custody in Utrecht.

A second suspect was also arrested in connection with the crime, police said, but it was unclear to what extent this individual had been involved.

The shooting placed Utrecht, the fourth largest city in the Netherlands with some 350,000 residents, under a lockdown as police hunted for Tanis, whose image they posted on social media.

Residents were called on to stay indoors, and schools and offices closed their doors, as police helicopters circled overhead. Several buildings were searched during the hours-long manhunt.

Reports said the suspect may have tried to flee the area in a red-colored car, which was later discovered.

The province of Utrecht raised its terrorist threat warning to the highest level in the wake of the shooting. It was later downgraded. In neighboring Germany, police increased checks on roads and trains.

Shots were fired in the tram on 24 Oktoberplein, a junction in the west of the city, at 10:45 a.m.

A witness told NOS that the gunman seemed to have targeted one woman in particular. The woman had been on the ground, and people were assisting her, said Daan Molenaar.

Molenaar said that he saw an armed man running towards the group. “It looked as if he wanted to attack her again, or maybe the people who helped her,” he said.

The suspect has a long rap sheet, NOS reported. Among other crimes such as shoplifting and property damage, he was convicted of attempted murder in 2013. He is also a defendant in a rape trial that started two weeks ago.


©2019 Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany)

This is a breaking story. More information will be updated when available.


©2019 Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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