On 9 April 2011, six people were killed by a gunman
who entered the Ridderhof mall in Alphen aan den Rijn, Netherlands, a
town approximately 33 kilometres (21 mi) south-west of Amsterdam.
Using a rifle, 24-year-old Tristan van der Vlis
shot several people and then killed himself, reportedly with a
different firearm. There were seven deaths, including the killer, and
17 wounded, making it the deadliest incident in the Netherlands since
the 2009 attack on the Dutch Royal Family.
Van der Vlis, wearing a bulletproof vest and armed
with a semi-automatic Smith & Wesson M&P15-22, a pistol and a
revolver, first got out of his black mercedes-benz and shot a person
outside, then entered the Ridderhof mall and fired more than 100
rounds, killing five people and injuring another 17 before he took a
pistol, put it on his head and took his own life.
Many shoppers in the centre panicked before it was
evacuated and cordoned off. Later that day one of the injured victims
succumbed to injuries, raising the total number of deceased to seven.
The gunman had left a note in his car stating that explosives had been
left in three malls in the city; these malls were subsequently
evacuated. Children were among the victims, but they had suffered only
mild injuries. Among the dead are three males aged 80, 49 and 42, and
three females aged 91, 68 and 45.
The shooter was 25-year-old Tristan van der Vlis,
who lived in an apartment complex in Alphen aan den Rijn with his
parents. He had lived in Alphen since his childhood. According to the
police, he had an obsession in guns since his childhood. He was a
member of a shooting association and possessed three firearms.
He previously had a history of psychological and
psychiatric problems, including paranoid schizophrenia; in 2006 he
spent 10 days in a closed institution after attempting suicide. He
tried to attempt suicide at least twice in 2008.
The Netherlands Government Information Service,
through a brief statement on Twitter, said Queen Beatrix was "speechless
because of the great loss and sadness;" and politicians such as
Minister of Security and Justice Ivo Opstelten expressed feelings of
shock and tragedy.
Several thousand people attended a memorial service
at the mall on 10 April. Prime minister Mark Rutte, Minister Opstelten
and acting Mayor of Alphen aan den Rijn Bas Eenhoorn were also present.
Shortly after the shooting, police arrested a 17-year-old
boy who threatened to carry out another mass shooting. The teenager
from Rotterdam allegedly posted on Twitter:
» Haha Iraq is also coming to the Netherlands. This man in Alphen
already has 6 kills on his name. I'm going to outdo him. «
After a backlash, the boy deleted the post and
claimed it was a joke. Since then, four other people were arrested for
making similar threats on Twitter.
Dutch gunman van der Vlis faced illegal weapons
April 10, 2011
The gunman who killed six
people in the Netherlands before taking his own life had previously
been investigated over illegal weapons.
A Dutch prosecutor said Tristan van der Vlis, 24,
had faced an inquiry in 2003 but had not been convicted.
He went on a shooting rampage with an automatic
weapon on Saturday at a shopping centre in Alphen aan den Rijn.
Officials said he had permits for five weapons. It
is not clear if one of them was used in the shootings.
Dutch law bans possession of automatic weapons.
The gunman came from the town, was known to police
and "almost certainly operated alone", said public prosecutor Kitty
She said he was a member of a shooting club who was
allowed to own five weapons, of which he actually possessed three.
"It is unclear whether he used one of them in the
shooting," she said.
Van der Vlis entered the Ridderhof shopping centre
around midday and opened fire. He was described as wearing a bomber
jacket and camouflage trousers
He killed five people before
shooting himself fatally in the head. One of the four critically
injured later died. At least seven other people were also injured.
Children were among the casualties, but officials
say they are not prepared to say whether they were among the dead or
the injured due to privacy reasons.
Witnesses said van der Vlis appeared to be shooting
at random. Police arrived just as the gunfire was ending.
Mayor Bas Eenhoorn called the incident "unprecedented"
for the town of about 70,000 people.
Officials said van der Vlis left two notes, neither
of which gave an explanation for his actions.
One note, found by his mother, spoke of his
suicidal feelings, town's Mayor Bas Eenhorn said.
The other note was found in his car parked outside
the shopping centre.
"The letter said: 'There are explosives in three
other shopping malls in Alphen aan den Rijn'," prosecutor Kitty Nooy
The shopping centres were evacuated but no bombs
Ms Nooy said van der Vlis had not been in the
military and had no history of dealing with explosives.
The Netherlands has strict gun laws and shootings
are rare. Despite this, two people were killed on 2 April in a
shooting in the same district of the town. Officials have not made a
link between the two incidents.