Dutch Defense Min. concerned by U.S. gun violence after commando shot dead in Indianapolis
The Dutch minister of defense said on Tuesday that she was troubled by gun violence in the United States after three commandos from the Royal Netherlands Army were hit during an apparent drive-by shooting in Indianapolis. One of the three, 26-year-old Simmie Poetsema, died from the injuries he sustained in the attack, which may have been an act of revenge following an earlier fight.
“Frankly, very concerned because, of course, it’s our most important ally,” said Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren before the meeting of European Union defense ministers in Prague. “We do many trainings of our servicemen in the United States, and we really don’t expect this to happen. So, it is very, very concerning for us.”
A spokesperson for the minister told NL Times it is too early for the Netherlands to consider limiting or halting the practice of sending troops to the United States for training and other cooperative projects. When asked about that, Ollongren said, “It’s still too early. We, of course, have to see what the investigation is going to tell us, but in general, gun violence is something to be concerned about.”
Ollongren was contacted by her American counterpart, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, this week. Austin expressed his regret and condolences for the three victims, Ollongren said. A spokesperson for the minister said Ollongren did not discuss the safety of Dutch soldiers in the United States during their call.
The shooting happened during the early hours of Saturday morning in downtown Indianapolis in front of the hotel where the commandos were staying with other Dutch military personnel in their free time. Poetsema‘s death was announced by the Ministry of Defense on Monday morning. One of the two other victims was initially listed in critical condition, but both men were conscious and alert, the ministry said.
“As I understand it, there was a scuffle — a kerfuffle — at a bar, and the Dutch guardsmen had returned back to their hotel,” said Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett. “What they were doing outside, I'm not altogether sure, but I'm told the alleged perpetrators did a drive-by shooting, and ultimately three were victimized by that shooting.”
The minister would not comment in-depth about the rumor that a bar fight preceded the shooting, instead saying the investigation should develop before she speaks about the details of what happened in Indianapolis. “There is good contact between our military police and the local authorities. We have read things in the media, we have heard what the mayor said, but we feel it’s very important to have a real thorough investigation. So we’re waiting for that until we comment on what actually happened.”
Authorities in Indianapolis have not made any arrests in the shooting and have not publicly identified any suspects in the case.