Dutch police are seeking a man alleged to have opened fire on a tram in the city of Utrecht, killing three people, and they are suggesting a “possible terrorist motive” may have spurred the attack.
There is a manhunt on for Gökmen Tanis, 37, who was born in Turkey. Anyone spotting him should not approach, as he is thought to still be armed, per NPR. Utrecht Mayor Jan van Zanen confirmed that three are dead, and five more were wounded, having suffered serious injuries.
Details about the attack, which took place at 10:45 a.m. local time, are still emerging. Police say that before the attack, a car was stolen near the intersection where the shooting took place.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on local radio that the country is stunned by the vicious attack.
“An act of terror is an attack on our open and tolerant society. If it is an act of terror, there is only one answer: our rule of law and democracy is stronger than violence.”
Dutch police believe that the attack is the act of a single gunman, Tanis, but they haven’t ruled anything else out. Police are asking that people “remain vigilant,” and urge citizens to stay away from the area where the shooting occurred.
Three people killed in shooting in Dutch city of Utrecht, mayor says – police hunt suspecthttps://t.co/vXELPs9nXY
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) March 18, 2019
BBC News confirms that area schools and the university have been closed out of caution, while the counter terrorism force works to locate the gunman. Rutte elaborated on the incident, saying that the event is “deeply disturbing.”
“Our country today has been jolted by an attack. Police and prosecutors are looking into what exactly happened. What’s known now is that there was shooting at people sitting in a tram.”
In their search for Tanis, police have surrounded a home near the intersection where the shooting took place. A local man said that the suspect had previously fought in the Russian republic of Chechnya, where jihadist groups like ISIS have long had a stronghold. He added that Tanis had recently been arrested for his connection to the group, but had then been released.
Vox is reporting that Tanis fled the site of the shooting on foot, according to Dutch police spokesperson Joost Lanshage. At this time, only the photo taken from surveillance footage is available to the public. Police are not yet releasing the names of the dead or of the injured, and they say they have no firm motive for a shooting that has been described as a random spray of bullets.