Suspected gunman in deadly Dutch tram shooting is arrested

Source: Suspected gunman in deadly Dutch tram shooting is arrested | The Times of Israel

‘We assume a terror motive,’ says Utrecht’s mayor as 37-year-old Turkish-born Gokmen Tanis suspected of killing three and wounding five

Suspected gunman Gokmen Tanis, 37, on March 18, 2019. Police believe he carried out a deadly shooting on a city tram that day. (Police Utrecht on Twitter, via AP)

Suspected gunman Gokmen Tanis, 37, on March 18, 2019. Police believe he carried out a deadly shooting on a city tram that day. (Police Utrecht on Twitter, via AP)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The police chief of the Dutch city of Utrecht said Monday evening that the suspect in a deadly tram shooting earlier in the day has been detained following a manhunt.

At the end of a news conference, Utrecht police chief Rob van Bree told reporters: “I just heard that the suspect we were hunting has been arrested.”

Further details were not immediately available.

The gunman, identified as 37-year-old Turkish-born Gokmen Tanis, killed three people and wounded five on an Utrecht tram on Monday morning, in what the city’s mayor said appeared to be a terror attack, touching off a manhunt that saw heavily armed officers with dogs zero in on an apartment building nearby.

Authorities immediately raised the terror alert for the area to the highest level, and Dutch military police tightened security at airports and key buildings in the country.

Dutch counter-terrorism police install a camera on a sniffer dog as they prepare to enter a house after a shooting incident in Utrecht, Netherlands, on March 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

A few hours after the shooting, Utrecht police released a photo of Tanis and said he was “associated with the incident.” The photo showed a bearded man aboard a tram in a blue hooded top.

Mehmet Tanis, the suspect’s father who lives in Turkey’s central Kayseri province, told the private Demiroren news agency that he had not spoken to his son in 11 years. “If he did it, he should pay the penalty,” the father was quoted as saying.

Separately, Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency said the suspect’s relatives believed he had shot at someone close to the family due to “family issues.”

The attack came three days after 50 people were killed when an immigrant-hating white supremacist opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, during Friday prayers. There was no immediate indication of any link between the two events.

Utrecht Mayor Jan van Zanen said three people were killed, and police initially put the number of wounded at five.

Rescue workers install a screen on the spot where a body was covered with a white blanket following a deadly shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands, on March 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

“We cannot exclude, even stronger, we assume a terror motive. Likely there is one attacker, but there could be more,” van Zanen said.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that “a terror motive is not excluded” and that the attack was met throughout the country with “a mix of disbelief and disgust.”

“If it is a terror attack, then we have only one answer: our nation, democracy, must be stronger than fanaticism and violence,” he added.

The shooting took place at a busy intersection in a residential neighborhood. Police erected a white tent over an area where a body appeared to be lying next to the tram.

Anti-terror officers gathered in front of an apartment building close to the scene. A dog wearing a vest with a camera mounted on it was also seen outside the building. It is not immediately clear on Monday evening if the arrest took place at the building initially targeted by police.

Police forces at 24 Oktoberplace in Utrecht, on March 18, 2019, after a deadly shooting at the site. (Robin van Lonkhuijsen/ANP/AFP)

The Netherlands’ anti-terror coordinator, Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, raised the threat alert to its highest level, 5, around Utrecht, a city of nearly 350,000.

Political parties halted campaigning ahead of provincial elections scheduled for Wednesday that will also determine the makeup of Parliament’s upper house.

In neighboring Germany, police said they stepped up surveillance of the Dutch border, watching not only major highways but also minor crossings and train routes.

German authorities said they were initially told to look out for a red Renault Clio compact car, but were later informed it had been found abandoned in Utrecht.

 

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