Three killed in Rotterdam as student in combat gear opens fire at university hospital

Police say they arrested a 32-year-old man underneath a helipad

Rich Booth,Eleanor Noyce
Thursday 28 September 2023 22:07 BST
Dutch police secure the Erasmus University medical centre on Thursday afternoon
Dutch police secure the Erasmus University medical centre on Thursday afternoon (ANP/AFP via Getty Images)

A gunman killed three people in the Dutch city of Rotterdam on Thursday, shooting a local woman and her daughter in their home then storming into a classroom of Rotterdam’s university hospital and opening fire on a male teacher.

The 32-year-old suspect, a university student, shot dead the 39-year-old woman who lived in his neighbourhood, and shot her 14-year-old daughter. The girl died later in hospital, police said.

After setting the woman’s house on fire, the gunman went to the Rotterdam Medical Centre university hospital, where he entered a classroom and shot dead a 43-year-old teacher. The man was arrested near the hospital, where he also started a fire. His motive was unknown.

Rotterdam’s chief prosecutor Hugo Hillenaar said: “The suspect was known to law enforcement and in 2021 he was prosecuted and convicted for animal abuse.”

The shooting sent patients and medics fleeing the Erasmus Medical Centre, including some who were wheeled out of the building in beds. Others barricaded themselves into rooms and stuck hand-written signs to windows to show their location.

Medical staff leave the Erasmus MC Rotterdam hospital on Rochussenstraat (EPA)

The force initially said the gunman may have left the scene on a motorbike, but they later said an arrest team was checking the medical centre to establish if he was still in the building. They added they did not believe any other shooters were involved.

Videos posted online showed police instructing students, some wearing medical gowns, to run outside as heavily armed arrest teams arrived at the scene.

Some staff barricaded themselves in rooms while the search was going on (Reuters)

One video showed a man in handcuffs wearing what appeared to be camouflage pants, whilst the Erasmus Medical Centre appealed on social media for people not to attend the hospital.

Police were still in search of possible victims or people hiding on Thursday evening, Dutch news agency ANP reported citing police.

“This is a very dark day,” caretaker minister of justice and security Dilan Yesilgoz-Zegerius was quoted by newspaper de Telegraaf as saying in comments made in Brussels.

“It was a black day,” added Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb.

Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima expressed their sympathy on social media.

“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the victims of the violence this afternoon in Rotterdam,” the royal pair wrote. “We also think of everybody who lived in fear during these terrible actions.”

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