Motive behind Utrecht tram shooting still unclear

Clay Curtis
March 21, 2019

Dutch authorities were trying on Tuesday to determine the motive behind the shooting incident on a tram in the Dutch city of Utrecht in which three people were killed and five wounded.

Tanis is being held on suspicion of manslaughter with a possible terrorist intent, though the investigation is now underway and other possible motives are being considered.

Dutch prosecutors said a letter was found in the gunman's getaway auto.

Tanis, a 37-year-old man of Turkish descent, was being held on suspicion of 'manslaughter with terrorist intent'.

Tanis was arrested Monday evening after an hours-long manhunt that almost paralyzed the fourth largest city in the Netherlands and sent shockwaves through the nation.

Two other men, who are brothers but are not related to Tanis, were released on Tuesday afternoon and are no longer considered to be suspects, the public prosecution department said in a statement.

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. Turkish state news agency Anadolu, citing "relatives" of the alleged assailant, said it may have been a possible "family dispute".

During the hunt, police released a photo of a bearded Tanis on a tram in a blue hooded top.

He was arrested Monday evening after an hours-long manhunt that almost paralyzed the Netherlands' fourth-largest city and sent shockwaves through this nation.

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"A firearm was found during his arrest", the statement added.

Eyewitnesses said the killer appeared to be aiming at a woman when he opened fire on the tram in Utrecht at 9.45am on Monday.

Authorities said they had found a suspicious letter in a getaway auto used by Turkish-born main suspect Gokmen Tanis, 37, which made them "seriously" consider terrorism might have been involved in Monday's rampage in which three people were killed and seven injured.

Emergency services stand at the 24 Oktoberplace in Utrecht, Netherlands, where a shooting took place on March 18, 2019. Other motives have not been ruled out and these are being looked into'.

"A day later, I am still filled with horror", Rutte told parliament.

Public transport was running again after forensic police finished their investigations at the scene and removed the tram on which the shooting erupted.

In the past, he was acquitted of manslaughter but convicted of illegal possession of a weapon and theft.

Prosecutors were questioning all three suspects and it was not yet clear if Tanis would be brought before an investigating judge on Tuesday.

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

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