The Dutch city of Utrecht has engaged in a manhunt after a mass shooting on its mass-transit system. The gunman opened fire on passengers, killing at least one, before getting off the train and fleeing in a waiting car. The government suspects a terror attack and have put the Netherlands on high alert while they search for the perp and his potential conspirators, France 24 reported this morning:
NBC News also reports the incident’s bare facts, all that’s known so far at the moment:
A gunman was on the loose Monday after several people were injured in a shooting on a tram in the Dutch city of Utrecht, officials said.
Police said they were looking for a least one person who might have fled by car.
“The culprit is still on the run. A terror motive cannot be excluded,” anti-terror coordinator Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg said in a statement.
The “threat level has gone to 5, exclusively for the Utrecht province,” he added, referring to the highest level.
Perhaps the threat level assignment is being applied exclusively to the province, but the whole of the country has begun raising its security profile. CBS News reports that military police have been dispatched to key locations, perhaps in a bid to make sure the perps don’t escape the country:
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called the situation “very worrying” and the country’s counterterror coordinator said in a tweet that a crisis team was meeting to discuss the incident. …
The shooter remained at large, prompting the Dutch government to put the country’s military police on “extra alert” at airports and “vital buildings” amid the manhunt.
France24’s reporter noted that Dutch authorities had raised the threat level in the country not too long ago. This is the kind of detail that’s easy to get wrong in the first minutes and hours of this kind of story, so take that report with a grain of salt. If it’s true, then it might be one reason why officials were quick to assess this as a terror attack — or maybe that’s just a function of the perp having a getaway plan after a senseless shooting, which would be enough to make it the most likely explanation.
We’ll update this post as developments warrant. Even if it is a terror attack, no one has a clue yet what kind of terrorism it might be, which is another reason to keep from jumping to any conclusions. Until they find the shooter and his accomplices, Dutch authorities might not have much to add.
Update: I added the word “potential” to conspirators in the first paragraph. He may have acted alone and had a car stashed for his planned escape.
Update: The police have kept their cards close to the vest, but they have apparently identified someone of interest. There was more than one shooting, too, although perhaps it was all on the same tram:
#BREAKING Dutch police say hunting Turkish-born man over Utrecht shooting
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) March 18, 2019
Update: Police have named their suspect and released a still from video surveillance on the tram:
Utrecht police name Turkish-born Gokman Tanis in connection w today’s attack. Just yesterday Erdogan played the New Zealand attack video as part of his political campaign, and pro-gov’t Turkish newspaper said the attack was staged by Western intelligence agencies. https://t.co/nba0oxR4Iw
— Yaroslav Trofimov (@yarotrof) March 18, 2019
Update: The death count has been raised to three. Utrecht mayor Jan van Zanen tweeted out that nine were wounded, three seriously. Police in a news conference said they are investigating “a possible terrorist motive.”