Apple Store kidnapper had explosives; Hostage is a Bulgarian man, 44
Update 12:50 p.m. - The municipality of Amsterdam and police confirmed that the hostage was from Bulgaria, and not the United Kingdom as previously reported. They also confirmed that the perpetrator had explosives on him, but that the explosive material was not armed.
The man held hostage in an Apple store in Amsterdam on Tuesday night is a 44-year-old man from Bulgaria. Overnight the police conducted "a lot of investigation" in the store on Leidseplein, a police spokeswoman said on Wednesday morning. The municipality of Amsterdam and police confirmed that the hostage-taker was carrying explosives on his body, but that the material was not yet armed when he was taken down.
In a press conference during the early hours of Wednesday morning, Amsterdam police chief Frank Paauw praised the hostage's actions. "He acted in a split second" and got away from the perpetrator. "Had he not done that, it could have been a very nasty and long night." Paauw said that the victim is not an employee of the Apple Store.
The hostage situation lasted for hours on Tuesday evening and ended when the hostage managed to get away. That happened when the hostage-taker, a 27-year-old man from Amsterdam, asked the police for water at around 10:30 p.m. The police used a robot to take a bottle of water to the store. The hostage had to get it, likely under gunpoint, and took that opportunity to run away, according to AD. The hostage-taker chased after the hostage. Once outside, the police hit the Amsterdam man with a car. The police took about 70 people to safety during the hostage crisis.
Police union ACP is impressed with how the police handled the situation. "It shows the decisive and brave action of the police officer who eliminated the running suspect," spokesperson Maarten Brink said to AD. "In this situation, it proved crucial not to doubt, but to act. The way the police acted yesterday, and the officer in the police car, in particular, shows that we can be proud of our police. They step forward, even at the risk of their own lives, to protect the lives of others."
Minister Dilan Yeşilgöz of Justice and Security also praised the police's response. "The controlled and decisive action of the police deserves nothing but compliments. It prevented worse," Yeşilgöz said on Twitter. She also wished everyone involved in the hostage situation a lot of strength.
National Police chief Henk van Essen expressed a similar sentiment. "Professional and decisive action by colleagues in Amsterdam last night," he tweeted. "Worse was prevented, partly due to good cooperation between the Amsterdam police and the national unit."
The police could not say anything about the suspect's condition. He was taken to hospital with critical injuries. The spokesperson also could not say how the British man was doing after spending so long held at gunpoint. The police also refused to give any new information about the two homes they searched in Amsterdam or about the "bomb vest" the hostage-taker was allegedly wearing.
During the hostage situation, the hostage-taker himself contacted the police and demanded 200 million euros in cryptocurrency and a safe exit from the property. He threatened to blow himself up and sent a photo to regional broadcaster AT5 showing that he was wearing what appeared to be a bomb vest.
A total of four holes and cracks can be seen in the Apple Store's windows on Wednesday morning. The suspect had an automatic weapon and a handgun on him, according to the police. He fired the automatic weapon at least four times at the police when they arrived at the scene on Tuesday evening.
The Apple store won't be opening on Wednesday and Thursday. There are adjusted opening hours on its website, stating that it will open again on Friday at 10:00 a.m.
Apple published a statement in response to the hostage situation: "We are so incredibly grateful and relieved that our employees and customers in Amsterdam are safe after this terrifying experience. We would like to thank the local law enforcement officers for their exceptional work and their ongoing investigation. Our teams and customers took swift action and showed incredible strength and determination, and we are so grateful for the support and care that have shown each other under such challenging circumstances."
Reporting by ANP and NL Times