Dutch Flags Are At Half-Staff In Memory Of Shooting Victims

Mar 19, 2019
Originally published on March 19, 2019 7:30 am
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We're following the news of a mass shooting in the Netherlands, about which we have more questions than answers. It took place in Utrecht where three people were killed. Teri Schultz reports.

TERI SCHULTZ, BYLINE: When a man opened fire on tram passengers in downtown Utrecht, Dutch authorities initially feared the seemingly random attack was a terrorist incident. They raised the terror threat level to its maximum and ordered the area around the incident into lockdown mode, telling people to shelter in place. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte took to the airwaves, saying the Netherlands had been surprised by the attack...

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PRIME MINISTER MARK RUTTE: (Foreign language spoken).

SCHULTZ: ...And warning that terrorism could not be ruled out. Police circulated a photo of their prime suspect, 37-year-old Gokmen Tanis, a Turkish immigrant with a fresh criminal record who led them on an almost eight-hour manhunt. In the meantime, authorities said evidence was emerging this may have been a targeted personal attack, possibly on a family member. They relaxed the lockdown and told residents to go home calmly. Still, the gunman had left three people dead and five wounded - some gravely. Eyewitness reports said he'd shot a woman and those who tried to help her. Utrecht Mayor Jan Van Zanen expressed his grief flanked by officials from the police service and the Justice Ministry.

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JAN VAN ZANEN: (Foreign language spoken).

SCHULTZ: "This was a dark day for our city," the mayor said, "for Utrecht and the people of Utrecht." Van Zanen and the other officials defended the high terror alert, saying it had been completely unclear what they were dealing with, and they weren't taking any chances. At the very moment the mayor was speaking, the suspect was being arrested. But even now, the next morning, as flower tributes are piling up at the scene of the shooting and Utrecht comes out of its shock, officials say they still don't know why it happened.

For NPR News, I'm Teri Schultz.

(SOUNDBITE OF ERIC G'S "PEACE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.