Arrest made in case where gunman reportedly dressed as Zwarte Piet

Utrecht "Zwarte Piet" shooting suspect in 2018
Security camera footage showed a man suspected of shooting someone in Utrecht. Witnesses said the suspect was dressed as Zwarte Piet at the time shots were fired. Dec. 3, 2018Photo: Politie

Police arrested a third man connected to a shooting in Utrecht, where local residents said the perpetrator was dressed up like Zwarte Piet. The arrest in the 2018 case was announced on Tuesday. He is a 48-year-old man with no fixed address.

Two people were arrested in the case last June. Neither was believed to be the shooter, police said in July when they released images of the man they said was at large.

The victim suffered injuries to his hand when shots rang out on December 3, 2018, striking one of his fingers. One witness said the victim used her phone to call emergency services, saying that someone jumped out of the side of a black Volkswagen Transporter van, fired a gun several times, and then jumped back in the van, according to television program Opsporing Verzocht.

At least two bullets hit the victim's Volkswagen Polo that Monday afternoon, piercing the front windshield and hood of the car. The Volkswagen Transporter drove away from the scene on Rietstraat in the Ondiep district. It was found a short time later on the Schutstraat, about 500 meters away from the shooting.

After the shooting several parents said they saw a stranger in a Zwarte Piet costume standing in a nearby schoolyard playing Sinterklaas music. Before they could ask why he was there he disappeared.

Six months later, police arrested a 46-year-old in connection with the shooting. Identified as Michael C. from The Hague, he was suspected of driving the Transporter van used in the alleged attempted murder. A search of his home in June turned up several explosives, officials told Opsporing Verzocht.

A Limburg man, 35, was arrested two weeks later. They were to stand trial earlier this month but the case was delayed "due to developments and new information in the investigation," police said on Tuesday.

Prosecutors told the court that the new information was specifically about the gunman and could lead officers to apprehend him, RTV Utrecht reported.

Newspaper AD claimed the victim in the case is a Balkans man named Miki who is involved in drug trafficking. He reportedly lives in the neighborhood, and cheated death in a possible assassination attempt in April 2018 after police notified him that he had a bounty on his head.