Shopping mall mass shooting commemorated ten years on
Alphen aan de Rijn marks on Friday the ten-year anniversary of the mass shooting that took place at the Ridderhof shopping center. Seven people died in the attack that took place on April 9, 2011. Five of them were shot dead by the attacker, and another victim died from a heart attack during the shooting.
In addition, sixteen more people in the shopping center were injured by bullets, and a number of others were hurt by flying glass.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, no central commemoration is organized. However, flowers are being laid at the memorial monument near the shopping center. The Council of Churches has been organizing the annual commemorations in Alphen aan den Rijn for ten years now.
20-year-old Ashely lost her foster parents in a shooting just a few days after her 11th birthday. She said it took her years to recover from the attack and find the courage to speak about the painful event. Ashely suffered from severe anxiety for years following the traumatic experience.
"Fortunately I received therapy, which eventually helped. With that certain, traumatic images were erased from my memory.", she said.
Policeman Jaco van Hoorn, who was deputy chief of police of the Hollands Midden police region at the time when the attack took place, described the shooting as one of the hardest things he experienced during his 40-year long career.
"I have been through a lot, but this one stands out. Events like that one you just experience more personal and once that happens it’s hard to keep the distance your profession requires", he said.
The attacker was 24-year-old Tristan van der Vlis from Alphen aan de Rijn. The perpetrator, who had a record of mental health issues, also shot himself.
The shooting was considered to be the deadliest attack in the country, just two years after the 2009 attack on the Dutch royal family on Queen's Day in Apeldoorn.