A 37-year-old Turkish national has been arrested by Dutch police in connection with a shooting Monday morning in the nation’s fourth-largest town of Utrecht, ending a nationwide manhunt.
NBC News reports that Dutch authorities say they were able to identify the man from security surveillance footage taken aboard a city tram in Utrech, just before the man opened fire on about a dozen other passengers on the train. It is the same man pictured in an “all points bulletin” released by Dutch authorities earlier Monday morning.
“Justice Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus said authorities were able to identify the suspect from surveillance footage and the getaway car they believed he used to flee the scene. Grapperhaus also said [the shooter] has a criminal record,” NBC News reported.
The car, a red Renault Clio, was taken in a reported carjacking early Monday morning, just a few streets away from where the shooting eventually took place. The suspect used the Clio as a getaway car and then abandoned it “elsewhere in the city,” several miles away from the scene of the attack.
Dutch media reports that the suspect has a “history of petty crime” including minor thefts, an assault on a police officer, and an “attempted manslaughter” charge for shooting a weapon at an apartment building in the same neighborhood where Monday’s shooting took place. He also reportedly appeared in court earlier this month on a sexual assault allegation made against him in 2017.
In a rare bit of good news, Dutch authorities have scaled back the number of injured from nine to five, though at least three of the five are said to be in critical condition. Three people were killed in the attack.
NBC News also reports that Dutch law enforcement lowered the terror threat level to “4” from “5,” after police apprehended the suspect, and although they are proceeding as if the shooting was, indeed, a terrorist attack, they are investigating other possibilities, including a “domestic” dispute. Witnesses to the shooting reported to police that the gunman seemed to target a single woman on the tram, and then opened fire on anyone who rushed to assist her.
“The suspect’s acquaintances say there was ‘a family issue,'” NPR reports, based on a series of claims made on Turkish television, which have not been independently verified. “[The shooter] may have wanted to hurt either a woman with whom he had been involved or her family.”
The Netherlands is no stranger to terrorism, having suffered several smaller attacks in recent years — one, the murder of a prominent Dutch documentary filmmaker, and another involving an Afghan national in the country on a German visa, who stabbed two American tourists outside of an Amsterdam train station. But as nearly every mainstream media source noted Monday, gun violence and shooting deaths are rare in the European country.
Last year, the United States State Department issued a warning to those considering traveling to the Netherlands, according to NPR, advising them that terrorist groups do operate within the country and that they could be planning attacks.
“Terrorists continue plotting possible attacks in the Netherlands,” the State Department said in a September bulletin. “Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations.”
Dutch authorities, including the Prime Minister, have promised to get to the bottom of Monday’s attacks.
“An act of terror is an attack on our open and tolerant society,” the Prime Minister told media Monday evening. “If it is an act of terror, there is only one answer: Our rule of law and democracy is stronger than violence.”