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Gunman kills 3 on Dutch tram; mayor fears terrorism

Published
Rescue workers install a screen on the spot where a body was covered with a white blanket following a shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday, March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that

UTRECHT, Netherlands (AP) — A gunman killed three people and wounded five during a mid-morning tram ride Monday in the Dutch city of Utrecht, raising the specter of another extremist attack only days after the murderous rampage in New Zealand.

Authorities seized a Turkish-born suspect after a manhunt that convulsed the historic city of nearly 350,000 people for most of the day.

As night set in, three victims lay in critical condition, and the motive for the bloodshed remained under investigation. Prime Minister Mark Rutte said authorities were trying to determine whether the attack had "terror motives."

Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus said the suspect, identified as Gokmen Tanis, 37, was known to justice authorities and had a criminal record, but would not elaborate. Police said they also detained another man on suspicion of involvement but released no details.

The shooting came three days after 50 people were killed when an immigrant-hating white supremacist opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, during Friday prayers. There was no immediate indication of any link between the two events.

The Utrecht attack took place at a busy intersection in a residential neighborhood. The gunman was alleged to have had an automatic weapon, Grapperhaus said.

"We assume a terror motive," Mayor Jan van Zanen said as police searched for the killer, though he added that other motives could not be ruled out.

In the aftermath of the shooting, Dutch authorities put the Netherlands' fourth-largest city on lockdown, raised the threat level in the area to the maximum of 5 and tightened security at airports and key buildings in the country. Police issued a photo of a bearded Tanis aboard a tram in a blue hooded top.

"If it is a terror attack," the prime minister declared, "then we have only one answer: Our nation, democracy, must be stronger than fanaticism and violence."

Heavily armed officers with dogs searched for the killer, gathering at one point in front of an apartment building close to the scene. However, the suspect was later arrested at another location in the city. The threat level soon returned to 4.

Police said a red Renault compact car was carjacked shortly before the shooting and later found across town.

Local media said Tanis had been charged several times over the past years with offenses ranging from attempted manslaughter to petty crime in and around Utrecht. Two weeks ago he was in court on charges of raping of woman in 2017, news reports said.

The identities of the shooting victims were not immediately released, and Grapperhaus would not say if any were known to the gunman.

Political parties halted campaigning ahead of provincial elections scheduled for Wednesday that will also determine the makeup of Parliament's upper house. A televised debate also was canceled. It was not clear if campaigning would resume Tuesday.

___

Mike Corder reported from The Hague. Raf Casert in Brussels and Geir Moulson and David Rising in Berlin contributed.

Dutch counter terrorism police use a robot as they prepare to enter a house after a shooting incident in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday, March 18, 2019. A gunman killed three people and wounded nine others on a tram in the central Dutch city of Utrecht, sparking a manhunt that saw heavily armed officers with sniffer dogs zero in on an apartment building close to the shooting. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
CAPTION CORRECTS THE NAME - This image made available on Monday March 18, 2019 from the Twitter page of Police Utrecht shows an image of 37 year old Gokmen Tanis, who police are looking for in connection with a shooting incident on a tram. 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. (Police Utrecht via AP)
Dutch counter terrorism police install a camera on a sniffer dog as they prepare to enter a house after a shooting incident in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday, March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, left, and Justice and Security Minister Ferd Grapperhaus speak to the media at a press conference in The Hague, Netherlands, Monday, March 18, 2019. Dutch police are hunting down a suspect after a shooting on a tram in the central Dutch city of Utrecht that left several dead and more wounded. Authorities immediately raised the terror alert for the area to the maximum level. “Our nation was hit by an attack in Utrecht,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said. He said that “a terror motive is not excluded.” (AP Photo/Michael Corder)
A body is covered with a white sheet after a shooting in a tram in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday, March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that
In this image taken from video, a body lays next to a tram as emergency services attend the scene of a shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that
Emergency services attend the scene of a shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that
Emergency services attend the scene of a shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that
A body is covered with a white sheet after a shooting in a tram in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday, March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that
Rescue workers install a screen on the spot where a human shape was seen under a white blanket following a shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday, March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that
Ambulances are seen next to a tram after a shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday, March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that
In this image taken from video, a body lays next to a tram as emergency services attend the scene of a shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that
In this image taken from the Twitter page of Lilian Bruigom, emergency services attend the scene of a shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that
Map locates Utrecht, Netherlands, where shooting occorred on tram; 2c x 3 1/2 inches; 96.3 mm x 88 mm;
A body is covered with a white sheet after a shooting in a tram in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday, March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that
A body is covered with a white sheet after a shooting in a tram in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday, March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that "multiple" people have been injured as a result of a shooting in a tram in a residential neighborhood. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A body is covered with a white sheet after a shooting in a tram in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday, March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that
A body is covered with a white sheet after a shooting in a tram in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday, March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that "multiple" people have been injured as a result of a shooting in a tram in a residential neighborhood. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
In this image taken from the Twitter page of Lilian Bruigom, emergency services attend the scene of a shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that
In this image taken from the Twitter page of Lilian Bruigom, emergency services attend the scene of a shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that "multiple" people have been injured as a result of a shooting in a tram in a residential neighborhood. (Lilian Bruigom via AP)
In this image taken from video, a body lays next to a tram as emergency services attend the scene of a shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that
In this image taken from video, a body lays next to a tram as emergency services attend the scene of a shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that "multiple" people have been injured as a result of a shooting in a tram in a residential neighborhood. (AP Photo)
Dutch counter terrorism police install a camera on a sniffer dog as they prepare to enter a house after a shooting incident in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday, March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that
Dutch counter terrorism police install a camera on a sniffer dog as they prepare to enter a house after a shooting incident in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday, March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that "multiple" people have been injured as a result of a shooting in a tram in a residential neighborhood. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Emergency services attend the scene of a shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that
Emergency services attend the scene of a shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that "multiple" people have been injured as a result of a shooting in a tram in a residential neighborhood. (Martijn van der Zande via AP)
In this image taken from video, a body lays next to a tram as emergency services attend the scene of a shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that
In this image taken from video, a body lays next to a tram as emergency services attend the scene of a shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that "multiple" people have been injured as a result of a shooting in a tram in a residential neighborhood. (AP Photo)
Map locates Utrecht, Netherlands, where shooting occorred on tram; 2c x 3 1/2 inches; 96.3 mm x 88 mm;
Map locates Utrecht, Netherlands, where shooting occorred on tram; 2c x 3 1/2 inches; 96.3 mm x 88 mm;
Ambulances are seen next to a tram after a shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday, March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that
Ambulances are seen next to a tram after a shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday, March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that "multiple" people have been injured as a result of a shooting in a tram in a residential neighborhood. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Emergency services attend the scene of a shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that
Emergency services attend the scene of a shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that "multiple" people have been injured as a result of a shooting in a tram in a residential neighborhood. (Martijn van der Zande via AP)
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, left, and Justice and Security Minister Ferd Grapperhaus speak to the media at a press conference in The Hague, Netherlands, Monday, March 18, 2019. Dutch police are hunting down a suspect after a shooting on a tram in the central Dutch city of Utrecht that left several dead and more wounded. Authorities immediately raised the terror alert for the area to the maximum level. “Our nation was hit by an attack in Utrecht,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said. He said that “a terror motive is not excluded.” (AP Photo/Michael Corder)
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, left, and Justice and Security Minister Ferd Grapperhaus speak to the media at a press conference in The Hague, Netherlands, Monday, March 18, 2019. Dutch police are hunting down a suspect after a shooting on a tram in the central Dutch city of Utrecht that left several dead and more wounded. Authorities immediately raised the terror alert for the area to the maximum level. “Our nation was hit by an attack in Utrecht,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said. He said that “a terror motive is not excluded.” (AP Photo/Michael Corder)
Dutch counter terrorism police use a robot as they prepare to enter a house after a shooting incident in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday, March 18, 2019. A gunman killed three people and wounded nine others on a tram in the central Dutch city of Utrecht, sparking a manhunt that saw heavily armed officers with sniffer dogs zero in on an apartment building close to the shooting. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Dutch counter terrorism police use a robot as they prepare to enter a house after a shooting incident in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday, March 18, 2019. A gunman killed three people and wounded nine others on a tram in the central Dutch city of Utrecht, sparking a manhunt that saw heavily armed officers with sniffer dogs zero in on an apartment building close to the shooting. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Rescue workers install a screen on the spot where a body was covered with a white blanket following a shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday, March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that
Rescue workers install a screen on the spot where a body was covered with a white blanket following a shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday, March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that "multiple" people have been injured as a result of a shooting in a tram in a residential neighborhood. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
CAPTION CORRECTS THE NAME - This image made available on Monday March 18, 2019 from the Twitter page of Police Utrecht shows an image of 37 year old Gokmen Tanis, who police are looking for in connection with a shooting incident on a tram. 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. (Police Utrecht via AP)
CAPTION CORRECTS THE NAME - This image made available on Monday March 18, 2019 from the Twitter page of Police Utrecht shows an image of 37 year old Gokmen Tanis, who police are looking for in connection with a shooting incident on a tram. 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. (Police Utrecht via AP)
Rescue workers install a screen on the spot where a human shape was seen under a white blanket following a shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday, March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that
Rescue workers install a screen on the spot where a human shape was seen under a white blanket following a shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday, March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that "multiple" people have been injured as a result of a shooting in a tram in a residential neighborhood. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)