Three people gunned down on a Dutch tram

Posted at 1:50 PM, Mar 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-18 17:53:24-04

UTRECHT, NETHERLANDS – After a major manhunt for a suspect believed to have gunned down three people and wounded five others on a tram Monday morning is now in police custody.

Dutch Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus said the attacker, identified as 37-year-old Turkish-born Gokmen Tanis, “was known” to authorities and had a criminal record, but did not elaborate any further.

Police said they also detained another man who they suspect could be involved in the shooting as well but released no more details.

37-year-old Gokmen Tanis

Authorities are not ruling this out as a terror attack.

“If it had terror motives, that is being investigated. But it was very serious. The world shares our grief,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte said.

This attack comes just three days after 50 people were killed when a gunman opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand during Friday prayers.

Dutch authorities lowered the threat level in the city back to four out of five following Tanis’s arrest, which came after a manhunt involving heavily armed officers with dogs.

Immediately after the attack, Dutch military police tightened airport security and other key buildings in the country. Rutte declared: “If it is a terror attack, then we have only one answer: Our nation, democracy, must be stronger that fanaticism and violence.”

The shooting happened at a busy intersection in a residential neighborhood. Police put a white tent over an area where a body appeared to be lying next to the tram.

Dutch authorities covering body with white tent

Local media said Tanis had been charged several times over the past years with offenses ranging from attempted manslaughter to petty crime in and around the city of Utrecht. Two weeks ago he was in court on charges of raping a woman in 2017, news reports said.

Authorities continue to investigate this attack.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)