New arrest in shooting that wounded two girls; Police suspect drugs link

Forensic investigators at the scene of a shooting on Molenstraat in Helmond, 21 Jan 2019
Forensic investigators at the scene of a shooting on Molenstraat in Helmond, 21 Jan 2019Photo: Politie

On Tuesday afternoon a SWAT team arrested a 21-year-old man on suspicion of involvement in a shooting in Helmond on Monday, in which two girls aged 2 and 15 were injured. Based on the initial investigation, the police "strongly take into account" that the shooting was related to a conflict in the Helmond drug world.

At least one gunman opened fire on a gray Volkswagen Golf on Molenstraat on Monday afternoon. Gunshots flew through the back window of the car, and the occupants fled on foot. Stray bullets hit a 2-year-old girl, who was sitting on the back of her mother's bicycle, and a 15-year-old girl, who was passing by with a group of her classmates. A green Opel Astra was seen speeding away from the scene. It was found empty a short time later. 

The toddler was hit in the leg. She underwent surgery on Tuesday and is now conscious and doing well under the circumstances, the police said in a statement on Tuesday evening. "It is not yet clear what the physical consequences for the girl will be. Victim Support was called in for the girl and her mother." The teen girl was hit in the arm. She was treated in hospital on Monday and then sent home to recover. "Physically she is doing well under the circumstances, but the event obviously had a major impact", the police said. Victim Support was also asked to contact the teenager.

Mayor Elly Blanksma of Helmond visited the teen girl on Monday evening and the toddler and her family in hospital on Tuesday. "She was operated on and her condition is currently stable. She is still in hospital", the mayor said. "I also contacted Dr. Knippenberg College, the school fo the 15-year-old girl. Several pupils were witnesses of the incident. Of course, the school was greatly shocked by what happened and is currently focussing its attention on the welfare of pupils." The mayor is in contact with the victims, their families, and the school.

The police investigation is still in full swing. On Tuesday detectives collected surveillance camera footage from the area, and these are currently being analyzed. The police are also looking for witnesses who haven't spoken to them yet. The investigation team is particularly looking for witnesses of a quarrel. "Passengers of both cars had a quarrel on Molenstraat just before the shooting. There was loud shouting at the place where the car was eventually attacked. It was busy on the streets and people must have heard that", the lead investigator said. 

A 23-year-old man was arrested immediately after the shooting, but he was later released after investigation showed that he was not involved in the incident. The man is no longer considered a suspect, but a witness, the police said. 

Shortly after the first arrest, the 21-year-old man came into the picture. The police immediately started looking for him. On Tuesday he was spotted in a home on Heistraat in Helmond. A SWAT team raided the home at around 4:00 p.m. and arrested the man. He is in custody for questioning.