Suspect arrested in Utrecht mass shooting; Threat level reduced

Utrecht mass shooting 24 Oktoberplein press conference
Rob van Bree, Rutger Jeuken, and Mayor Jan van Zanen arrive for a press conference about the 24 Oktoberplein mass shooting. 18 March 2019Photo: NL Times

18:35, 18 March 2019: The information in this article was updated as new developments were revealed during the press conference.

One person was taken into custody during the police investigation into a mass shooting in Utrecht. The suspect, 37-year-old Gökmen T., was identified by police earlier as the primary suspect and was still at large when the press conference began. That situation changed suddenly, with new information revealed right at the end of the event.

"My colleague has informed me that the suspect has been arrested. The suspect is now in custody. That's all I can say at this stage," said central Netherlands police operations lead Rob van Bree at a press conference. The 

The arrest reportedly took place off the Oudenoord, less than a kilometer away from where the suspected getaway vehicle was found. Images from the scene were posted to social media by 6:40 p.m.

"Today is a dark day for our city," said Mayor Jan van Zanen at the press conference in Utrecht on Monday evening. The incident at a transit stop on 24 Oktoberplein led to the deaths of three people, and five others were injured. Previously, authorities said that nine were injured. Three of those hurt were in critical condition.

Shortly after the press conference, national counter-terrorism coordinator Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg said that the threat level in Utrecht was reduced from the highest alert Level 5 down to Level 4. That is the same in the rest of the country.

The working theory is that the shooting was a terrorist attack, but other theories have not been excluded, said Rutger Jeuken from the Public Prosecutor's office. "Because of the witness statements and evidence collected, we are considering a terrorist motive," he continued. "We cannot exclude other motives," Jeuken stressed.

The investigation developed rapidly even during the 6:15 p.m. press conference. Mayor Van Zanen by said early on, "The suspected perpetrator has not yet been found. It is the top priority to capture him." 

Dozens of journalists from the Netherlands and abroad packed the fire department headquarters building in Utrecht, which was used as a central command post for the emergency services response on Monday.

"People who need help, people who have questions, can receive access from the victim's support organization by calling 0900-0101," Van Zanen said.

Meanwhile, public transportation in Utrecht restarted. Many of the trams and buses here stopped running as the manhunt began shortly after the 10:45 a.m. incident.