Utrecht shooting: Dutch police probe 'terrorist motive' again

Leroy Wright
March 20, 2019

Dutch police and prosecutors pressed on Tuesday with their investigation into the motive of a suspect who they believe shot and killed three people and injured five more in an attack on a tram in the central city of Utrecht.

That letter is one of the reasons a terrorist motive is being considered, BBC News points out. "There is cause for this because of, among other things, a letter found in the getaway auto".

The main suspect is Gokmen Tanis, a 37-year-old man of Turkish descent who was being held on suspicion of "manslaughter with terrorist intent", though authorities have not ruled out other possible motives.

Police said they found a red Renault Clio that the suspect had used as a getaway vehicle after the attack.

Utrecht police said late on Monday that they had arrested two other men in connection with the attack but gave no further details about them.

They said the man "is suspected of involvement in the shooting".

The motive remains unknown, with Dutch officials saying they are still investigating a possible terrorist link but can not exclude that it may have been a family dispute.

Police found a red Renault Clio after Monday's attack which they said Tanis had used to flee.

Mosques and schools were closed across the Netherlands' fourth-largest city following the bloodshed, before heavily armed officers surrounded a building and arrested Tanis.

Children place flowers at the site of a shooting in Utrecht the Netherlands
Children place flowers at the site of a shooting in Utrecht the Netherlands

Police said two other suspects were also in custody but their role was unclear.

"The most important thing at the moment is taking care of the wounded and investigating the circumstances of the incident", he said in a statement at the time.

A stream of mourners laid flowers on Tuesday at the site of the attack near the 24 Oktoberplein square.

The attack stunned the Netherlands, where citizens will vote Wednesday in regional elections that could unsettle the ruling coalition.

Public transportation was running again after forensic police finished their investigations at the scene and removed the tram on which the shooting erupted. Two weeks ago he was in court on charges of raping of woman in 2017, news reports said.

Support for the Netherlands poured in from around the world including the United States, the European Union and Russian Federation after the attack.

"Looking at my nephew's condition, the possibility that what he did was a terror attack is low", he said, adding that he had not seen him in years and that his actions could stem from "matters of the heart".

"Our intelligence services are investigating all of this, our intelligence chief told me that he was going to gather all details and would come back to me", Erdogan told Turkish TV channel Ulke TV. "We will continue to do all we can to help you in this bad time of tragedy".

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