Dutch police have arrested a 37 year old man suspected of shooting three people dead and wounding five others in a possible terrorist attack on a tram in Utrecht in the Netherlands yesterday (Mon 18 March).
The Turkish-born suspect, Gökmen Tanis, was detained on Monday evening after being on the run for eight hours.
Parts of the city had been on lockdown since the 10:45am attack, and police had surrounded an apartment building.
Letter indicates a terrorist motive
A letter discovered in the gunman’s getaway car has prompted investigating prosecutors to seriously consider a terrorist motive behind the shootings.
However, evidence from social media accounts has also suggested that the attack could have been personally motivated. It has been reported that Tanis may have been targeting a woman who could have been a stepsister or ex-partner.
Police on Monday made the unusual decision to release an image of the suspect, who had allegedly escaped in a stolen red Renault Clio, in an effort to aid the manhunt.
Local chief public prosecutor Rutger Jeuken said that early indications suggested a terror attack.
“The first interpretation of what happened according to witness statements and the evidence we have found suggest a terrorist motive, although we cannot rule out other motives,” he said in a press conference in the evening.
All flags on government buildings in the Netherlands are hanging at half mast today (19 March).
Flags at half mast
Mark Rutte, prime minister of the Netherlands, said in a press conference, “It is still unclear what the motive behind the attack was – terrorist or otherwise, we don’t know and we can’t exclude anything.
“[Whatever the] motive, three people have died and three are fighting for their lives. The whole world is feeling this, and we should not think of this as less than it is.”
The attack took place in the 24 Oktoberplein area of the city on Monday March 18.
Police quickly secured the area and helicopters were dispatched to attend to the wounded.
It was also announced by police on Monday evening that a second suspect had been arrested.