Dutch shooting: Utrecht police arrest suspect after three killed

A man has been arrested after three people were killed and five wounded, some seriously, in a shooting on a tram in the Dutch city of Utrecht.

Gokmen Tanis, a 37-year-old Turkish man, was found several hours after the attack in a building about two miles (3km) from the scene.

Authorities said the attacker’s motive was unclear.

The incident sparked a city-wide manhunt and the closure of schools.

What happened on Monday?

At about 10:45 local time (09:45 GMT), police were called to reports of a shooting on board one of the city’s trams at the 24 Oktoberplein junction.

One witness told local media that “a man started shooting wildly”.

Several of the injured are in a critical condition.

Another witness told Dutch public broadcaster NOS that he had helped an injured woman when the tram came to an emergency stop.

“I looked behind me and saw someone lying there behind the tram,” he said. “People got out of their cars… and they started to lift her up.

“I helped to pull her out and then I saw a gunman run towards us, with his gun raised,” he said. “I heard people yell ‘Shooter! Shooter!’ and I started to run.”

The gunman then fled the scene, leading to the manhunt which lasted for much of Monday.

Schools were closed and security was increased at airports and mosques while counter-terrorism police worked to locate the suspect.

A photograph of him was posted on social media by police, who warned people against approaching him.

A number of raids were reportedly carried out and counter-terrorism officers were pictured patrolling the streets near to where the attack happened.

Police surrounded a building not far from the scene of the attack and arrested Mr Tanis on Monday evening.

What do we know about the suspect?

Police said the shooting appeared to be a terrorist incident but, at a press conference on Monday evening, a prosecutor said it could have been motivated by “family reasons”.

Mr Tanis was known to Dutch police, the prosecutor added.

A local businessman told BBC Turkish that Gokmen Tanis had previously fought in Russia’s republic of Chechnya.

Jihadist groups, including those aligned with the Islamic State (IS) group, have long operated in the region.

“He was arrested because of his connections with [IS] but released later,” the businessman told the BBC.

Image of 37 year old Gokman Tanis who police are looking for in connection with a shooting incident on a tram. 

Police, including heavily armed officers, flooded the area after the shooting Monday morning on a tram at a busy traffic intersection in a residential neighborhood. (Police Utrecht via AP)

What’s the reaction been?

Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the country had been “jolted by an attack”, which he described as “deeply disturbing”.

“There are many questions and rumours,” he said. “It is unclear what the motives are behind this attack.”

He said local elections would go ahead as planned on Wednesday but flags would be flown at half-mast.

Leaders from around the world, including French President Emmanuel Macron and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, offered their condolences.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU “stands side by side with the Netherlands and its people during these difficult times.”

Terrorist Attack in Amsterdam Shooting on Train

Meanwhile, the threat level in Utrecht has been reduced following the arrest. It was earlier raised to its highest point and paramilitary police were posted to airports and mosques.

Utrecht University closed all its buildings and trains were not allowed to run into the city’s central station. Some public transport services have now reopened.

Utrecht, the Netherlands’ fourth largest city, has a population of about 340,000.

Crime levels are low and gun killings are rare, which is the case for much of the country.

Published at Mon, 18 Mar 2019 23:02:24 +0000