Dutch police arrest Turkish suspect Gökmen Tanış after three shot dead on tram
UTRECHT – Agence France-Presse
Police had earlier launched a huge manhunt for Gökmen Tanış, 37, issuing a picture of the suspected gunman and warning the public not to approach him following the attack, in which five other people were wounded.
"We have just heard that the suspect we are looking for has been arrested," Utrecht police chief Rob van Bree told a dramatic press conference seconds after being handed a piece of paper with news of the arrest.
The city's mayor Jan van Zanen told the same news conference it was a "black day for Utrecht", while prosecution officer Rutger Jeuken said that "it looks like what we are dealing with is a terrorist motive".
A body covered in a white sheet could later be seen lying on the tram tracks.
Police then launched a massive manhunt during which the suspected gunman is believed to have carjacked a Renault Clio before being arrested about seven hours later, around three kilometers (two miles) from the attack site.
Security forces were on high alert at airports and other government buildings following the attack, which came just days after 50 people were killed at mosques in New Zealand in a rampage by an alleged white supremacist.
Dutch national counter-terrorism chief Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg said authorities had lowered the terror threat in Utrecht one notch from the top level after "the arrest of the main suspect for the shooting".
"There are many questions and rumors," he told a news conference in The Hague. "What the motive is, terrorist or other, we don't yet know, but we can't exclude anything."
Ordering flags to be flown at half-mast on March 20, Rutte added that a "sense of horror and disbelief prevails over the terrible events of today."
"Some say it is a family matter, some say it is a terror attack ... Our intelligence agency is looking into the matter. I haven't talked to our intelligence chief yet", Erdoğan told a private broadcaster.
The suspect's father, Mehmet Tanış, said his son "must be punished" if found responsible, Turkey's Demirören News Agency quoted him as saying.
Dutch police said Gökmen Tanış was known to them while NOS reported that he was in court in a rape case two weeks ago.
"America stands with you. We will continue to do all we can to help you in this terrible time of tragedy," said Pompeo, who is due to attend an entrepreneurship summit in The Hague in June.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said it was "hugely concerning news of a gunman opening fire on a tram in Utrecht, no doubt with innocent people just getting on with their day."
In August, a 19-year-old Afghan with a German residence permit stabbed and injured two American tourists at Amsterdam's Central Station before being shot and wounded.
In June, two terror suspects were arrested while close to carrying out attacks including at an iconic bridge in Rotterdam and in France, prosecutors said.