UTRECHT, Netherlands – The suspected shooter and a second person are in custody after three people were killed and five others wounded on Monday in a shooting on a tram, Dutch police said.
Turkish national Gökmen Tanis, 37, was “detained during a raid on the Old Town In Utrecht” police said on Twitter, adding: “Earlier the police published information and a photo of this same person.”
The photo was captured by the security camera aboard the tram.
A police spokesman said at a press conference that, in addition to the operation targeting a residence where Tanis was arrested, “raids” were conducted on several homes during the day and another person was arrested in one of those operations, but “it is not clear” how involved that person was in the attack.
In 2012, Tanis was put on trial for stealing a truck and in late 2013 for murder, in May 2014 for another robbery and two weeks ago he appeared in court in Utrecht accused of raping a woman in July 2017.
Tanis was riding on a tram in the Kanaleneiland district, in western Utrecht, when he produced a pistol and began shooting his fellow travelers, the first victim being a woman and the rest of the dead and wounded being people who tried to help her, witnesses said.
After the attack, the shooter escaped in a red car, a vehicle which was found several hours later with the motor running on Ticherlaarslaan Street, some 4 km (2.5 mi.) from the scene of the shooting.
The shooting took place at 10:45 am in 24 Oktoberplein, a busy junction underneath a highway bridge.
The prosecutor’s office said that “terrorism” was being considered as the possible motive for the attack but added that other motives could not be excluded.
Another hypothesis authorities are considering is that this was an “honor killing,” because of the possible relationship between Tanis and one of the victims.
The national coordinator of the NCTV counter-terrorism and security unit, Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, said that the shooting has “all the characteristics of a terrorist attack,” although he did not confirm the motivation for the crime.
The terrorist alert level for the province of Utrecht was initially raised to five, the maximum, but after the arrest of the chief suspect it was downgraded to four, the same as for the rest of the country.
Tanis acted for “family reasons” and the woman he shot first was a relative, according to reporting by Turkish news agency Anadolu, citing sources inside the family.
The Turkish government condemned the crime and expressed solidarity with the Netherlands.
“We strongly condemn the attack that took place today in the city of Utrecht, in the Netherlands, regardless of the identity of the perpetrator and the motivation behind it. We extend our condolences and wish fortitude to the families of those who lost their lives, and speedy recovery to those wounded,” Turkey’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
Utrecht’s mayor Jan van Zanen, called it a “black day for our city.”
“An act of terror is an attack on our open and tolerant society. If this is a terror attack, then there is only one answer: our rule and democracy are stronger than fanaticism and violence. We will not accept intolerance,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told a press conference.
Utrecht, the fourth-largest city in the Netherlands, is located just 40 km (24 mi.) southeast of Amsterdam.