Dutch police have arrested a 37-year-old man suspected of shooting three people dead and wounding five others in a possible terror attack on a tram.
The Turkish-born suspect, Gökmen Tanis, was on the run since Monday morning, forcing vast parts of Utrecht city – including mosques, schools and businesses – into lockdown.
Although the local terror threat level was set to a maximum of five, as the day progressed increasing evidence on social and international media suggested the attack could have been personally motivated.
During the eight-hour manhunt, residents were advised to stay indoors and police were sent to secure mosques across the Netherlands.
In an unusual move, police had named and released photographs of Mr Tanis, a local resident born in Turkey, who is thought to have unleashed a volley of shots on a tram in a quiet, residential area before fleeing in a stolen, red Renault Clio.
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.
But the police acknowledged in a Twitter feed of press releases that other reports in Dutch and Turkish media suggested that there might have been personal motives, possibly targeting a woman who could have been a step-sister or ex-partner.
Mr Tanis had reportedly been sentenced for an attempted killing in 2013 after he fired shots towards an apartment building.
He was in court two weeks ago accused of a rape in 2017, and had previously been arrested for attempted vehicle theft, driving under the influence of intoxicants and spitting at police.
Mark Rutte, the prime minister, said in a press conference that all flags on government buildings would hang at half-mast tomorrow: “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 shooting took place at the 24 Oktoberplein area, and eye-witnesses said that after shouts of “shooter”, people fled from the tram.
The area was quickly shut off by police, three trauma helicopters were called, and armed police and anti-terror forces flooded the streets.
Greet Oldenlam, 65, said that she saw paramedics carry a body covered with a bloodstained sheet from the tram. “I can’t believe this happened in my city,” she said.
“[It] seems like nowhere is safe now. Those poor people attacked in the tram on a quiet Monday.”
Utrecht tram shooting – locator map
A witness on the tram, Daan Molenaar, told Dutch broadcaster NOS: “I saw someone lying behind the tram and thought she had been ridden over.
"People came out of cars running towards her. Then a shooter came running with a pistol up, and heard people shouting ‘shooter!’ I ran.”
As schools and businesses closed their doors, inhabitants stood outside their homes, looking up dumbfounded as helicopters and drones flew over the area.
Later, armed police surrounded a first-floor apartment in the nearby street of Trumanlaan and the red car was discovered on a nearby road with doors open and engine running.
In a press conference on Monday evening, police announced that a second suspect had also been arrested during the day. “Today is a black day for our city,” said mayor Van Zanen.
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