Utrecht's police chief says the suspect in the deadly tram shooting in the Dutch city has been detained.
At the end of a news conference Monday evening in Utrecht, police chief Rob van Bree told reporters: "I just heard that the suspect we were hunting has been arrested."
The Dutch justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus said the suspect has a criminal record. "Yes, the suspect was known within the justice department. He had a criminal record. That is indeed what we know. I can give no more details."
But he said that it was too early to say whether the attack suspect had a terror motive but acknowledged he had a criminal history.
He warned against early speculation about motives and said "it is important that now the independent investigation will thoroughly go through" the evidence.
Local news reports said that the suspect had been charged several times over the past years, anything from attempted manslaughter to petty crime in and around Utrecht. The networks said that only two weeks ago he was in court on charges of raping of woman in 2017.
The gunman killed three people and wounded five others on a tram Monday morning in what the mayor said appeared to be a terror attack,.
Authorities immediately raised the terror alert for the area to the maximum level. Dutch military police went on extra alert at Dutch airports and at key buildings in the country as the Utrecht manhunt took place.
A few hours after the shooting, Utrecht police released a photo of a 37-year-old man born in Turkey who they said was "associated with the incident." The photo showed a bearded man on board a tram, dressed in a dark blue hooded top.
Police warned citizens not to approach the man, whom they identified as Gokmen Tanis, but call authorities instead.
The Utrecht attack came three days after 50 people were killed when an immigrant-hating white nationalist opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand during Friday prayers. There was no immediate indication of any link between the two events.
Police, including heavily armed officers, flooded the area after the shooting Monday morning on a tram at a busy traffic intersection in a residential neighborhood. They later erected a white tent over an area where a body appeared to be lying next to the tram.
Utrecht police said trauma helicopters were sent to the scene and appealed to the public to stay away.
Heavily armed anti-terror officers gathered in front of an apartment building close to the scene. A sniffer dogs wearing a tactical vest with a camera mounted on it was also seen outside the building.
Mayor Jan van Zanen confirmed three deaths and police later said five people were wounded. That figure was downgraded without explanation from nine.
"We cannot exclude — even stronger — we assume a terror motive. Likely there is one attacker, but there could be more," Van Zanen said.
"Our nation was hit by an attack in Utrecht," Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said. He said that "a terror motive is not excluded."
Rutte said that, throughout the country, "there is a mix of disbelief and disgust."
"If it is a terror attack then we have only one answer: our nation, democracy must be stronger that fanaticism and violence," he added.
Police spokesman Bernhard Jens said one possibility "is that the person fled by car." He did not rule out the possibility that more than one shooter was involved.
The Netherlands' anti-terror coordinator raised the threat alert to its highest level around Utrecht, a city of nearly 350,000 people. Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg said the "threat level has gone to 5, exclusively for the Utrecht province."
Dutch political parties halted campaigning ahead of provincial elections scheduled for Wednesday that will also determine the makeup of the Dutch parliament's upper house.
In neighboring Germany, police said they had stepped up surveillance of the Dutch border. Heinrich Onstein, a spokesman for federal police in North Rhine-Westphalia state, said additional officers had been detailed to watch not only major highways, but also minor crossings and railway routes.
German authorities were initially told to look out for a red Renault Clio compact sedan, but were later informed it had been found abandoned in Utrecht, Onstein said.
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