Terrorism possible motive in Utrecht tram shooting; Several hurt

24 Oktoberplein shooting in Utrecht
The scene of a shooting on the 24 Oktoberplein in Utrecht. 18 March 2019photo: Politie

Updates 14:00 - The authorities are hunting at least one suspect in connection with this shooting. Police identified a 37-year-old man that they are seeking as part of the investigation. The national coordinator for counterterrorism NCTV increased the threat level for the province of Utrecht to 5, the highest level. Journalists at the scene of the shooting report seeing a body covered by a white sheet, though no fatalities have been confirmed by the authorities. The public can contact the city's hotline at 030 - 286 00 00 with questions. 

Multiple people were injured in a shooting on 24 Oktoberplein in Utrecht on Monday morning. Emergency services are at the scene, including trauma helicopters and an anti-terrorism unit of the police. The police are investigating. "A possible terrorist motive is part of the investigation", the Utrecht police said on Twitter. 

Exactly what happened is not yet clear. On Twitter the police confirmed that the shooting happened on a tram at 10:45 a.m. Witness reports speak of at least one person killed, though this has not been confirmed by the authorities. 

Eye witnesses told NU.nl that multiple shots were fired. "A man started shooting in a wild way", one witness said. The area around 24 Oktoberplein has been cordoned off.

The situation was escalated to Grip 1 at 11:27 a.m., which means that a commanding officer from one of the emergency services took command of the entire scene for all responding agency. At 11:28 a.m. it was escalated to Grip 2, which means that the incident is affecting the entire city and region. A regional command team is coordinating between all emergency services leader ship, and the mayor and his administration is being kept informed and involved. 

A regional command team was established by 11:36 a.m. Officials from all emergency services are meeting at a command post a few kilometers away from the scene of the shooting. 

The first trauma helicopter was dispatched to the area at 10:47 a.m., with a second following at 10:57 a.m. and a third at 11:03 a.m. Two police helicopters are keeping an eye on the scene from above, according to the flight data website. 

The police call on the public to give emergency services room to do their jobs 

The square is a busy traffic junction in Utrecht. A tram stop is located on the square. Tram traffic in the city has been halted, according to NU.nl.