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Everything we know so far about the deadly tram shooting in the Netherlands

Police have identified a suspect

by David Gilbert
Mar 18 2019, 12:23pm

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This story was updated March 17 at 9:54 a.m. and at 10:18 a.m. Check back for further updates.

Update, March 17, 2:00 p.m.:

Dutch police have arrested a suspect who allegedly opened fire on a tram in Utrecht on Monday, leaving at least three people dead and several injured.

Though police didn't immediately identify the person arrested, they had previously said Gokem Tanis, a 37-year-old from Turkey, was wanted in connection with the incident, according to CNN.

Original story: Dutch police have identified a suspect with a possible “terrorist motive” after a tram came under fire in the city of Utrecht on Monday, leaving at least three people dead and several injured.

The incident took place at 10:45 a.m. local time (5:45 a.m. ET) when a gunman opened fire on a crowded tram car at 24 October Square, just outside the city center.

“Multiple people have been injured,” local police said on Twitter. “It is a shooting incident in a tram. Several trauma helicopters have been deployed to provide help.”

The mayor of Utrecht, Jan van Zanen, confirmed via Twitter video that three victims had died and nine others were injured.

Utrecht police have named Gökmen Tanis as the suspect and published a picture of the 37-year-old man, originally from Turkey, saying they want to talk to him in connection with the attack. They asked the public not to approach him but to call the police instead.

The Dutch counterterrorism service raised the terror threat level in Utrecht to five — the highest level — for the first time since it was introduced.

“A complex operation is underway looking for the suspect. We ask citizens to stay alert and listen to the local authorities,” Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, the Dutch counterterrorism chief said at a press conference on Monday.

Aalbersberg said earlier that a “terrorist motive has not been ruled out.”

Armed police surrounded an apartment building 200 meters from where the attack took place amid reports from local media that the suspect was inside.

Earlier reports suggested the suspect fled the scene in a red Renault Clio, but German authorities told AP said they had been advised the car was discovered abandoned in the city.

Speaking to broadcaster RTV Utrecht, an eyewitness said he heard several shots fired and saw one woman lying face down on the ground next to the tram, shouting, “I have done nothing wrong.”

He added that he then saw four men “running fast towards the woman and trying to drag her away.” Eventually, he said, they fled the scene.

Police forces stand at the 24 Oktoberplace in Utrecht, on March 18, 2019 where a shooting took place.(ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

The Utrecht police tweeted that they are taking into account “a possible terrorist motive.”

Police have upped security at transport hubs including the nearby Schiphol airport. Local schools have been ordered to keep children indoors. The police also ordered the city’s mosques to be evacuated and sent armed police to guard some of the larger mosques in nearby towns.

The move follows the terror attack on two mosques in Christchurch Friday that left 50 people dead.

Heavily-armed police together with emergency services swarmed the location of the attack within minutes, with at least three helicopters ferrying victims from the shooting site to local hospitals.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the incident was “very worrying” and said his government was holding crisis talks.

Cover image: Police forces stand near a tram at the 24 Oktoberplace in Utrecht, on March 18, 2019 where a shooting took place. (ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN/AFP/Getty Images)