Utrecht tram shooting: Heavily armed police surround building where tram gunman is believed to be holed up

The gunman, who is believed to be Turkish-born 37-year-old Gökmen Tanis, left at least three people dead and police said at least five other people in the shooting on Monday


                            Utrecht tram shooting: Heavily armed police surround building where tram gunman is believed to be holed up

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) Heavily armed anti-terror officers have gathered in front of an apartment block close to the scene of a deadly shooting on a tram in the central Dutch city of Utrecht. 

The police are on the lookout for the gunman who is believed to be Turkish-born 37-year-old Gökmen Tanis. According to RTV Utrecht, Tanis was not only a suspect in a rape case, but he also came into contact with the police earlier. This would involve attempting manslaughter, threatening and insulting a woman, threatening and insulting the police and peeing in a police cell. This is not confirmed.



There are more and more rumors about the suspect. The 37-year-old Tanis is said to have been in court two weeks ago in a rape case. His name is on a court roster, but his lawyer does not confirm that it is the same man who is currently being sought. The lawyer also does not want to comment on the matter.

The shooting late morning Monday left at least three people dead and police said at least five other people were wounded.

Ambulances are seen next to a tram after a shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands, on March 18 (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Ambulances are seen next to a tram after a shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands, on March 18 (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

From the tram scene, security officials have moved to a location some 200 meters away where they are awaiting further instructions. 

The Dutch anti-terror coordinator has raised the threat alert to its highest level around the central Dutch town of Utrecht following the shooting incident on a tram in the city, with the shooter still on the run. 

Anti-terror coordinator Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg said in a statement that the "threat level has gone to 5, exclusively for the Utrecht province," referring to the highest level. 

"The culprit is still on the run. A terror motive cannot be excluded," he said in a Twitter message. He called on citizens to closely follow the indications of the local police.

Dutch police say they are looking for a least one person who might have fled by car.

Spokesman Bernhard Jens did not exclude more people might be involved. However, no one had been detained yet.

Dutch police say they are looking for a least one person who might have fled by car (ap)
Dutch police say they are looking for a least one person who might have fled by car (ap)

"We want to try to catch the person responsible as soon as possible," Jens said.

Police said they were searching for the shooter "with all possible means."

Earlier, the police said that trauma helicopters were sent to the scene and appealed to the public to stay away to allow first responders to do their work.

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 situation. The alert level was raised to its highest level for the area around Utrecht.