23 February 2022, by Victoria Séveno | Updated: 24 February 2022
After a five-hour standoff between the armed hostage-taker and Dutch police at Leidseplein on Tuesday night, the gunman has been arrested and Amsterdam authorities have announced that he demanded 200 million euros in cryptocurrency in exchange for the safety of the hostages.
Gunman takes over 70 hostages in Amsterdam Apple Store
At around 5.30pm on Tuesday evening, a man entered the Apple Store on Leidseplein in Amsterdam, armed with a handgun and an automatic rifle and wearing what appeared to police to be a bomb vest. Immediately upon entry, he grabbed a customer, holding him at gunpoint.
As police arrived, the surrounding area was closed off to traffic, public transport and pedestrians, and local businesses were locked down and evacuated. Those living in the area were asked to stay indoors.
At 8.30pm, around 70 hostages were freed from the building, but the gunman remained indoors with the original hostage, a 44-year-old man from Bulgaria. Two hours later, at around 10.30pm, the gunman is said to have asked the police for a drink of water. As the hostage-taker opened the doors to retrieve his drink, the hostage managed to escape. When the gunman pursued him, he was struck down by a Special Interventions Service (DSI) car.
Dutch police believe hostage-taker acted alone
Once it became clear that the hostage-taker didn’t carry any explosive devices, he was arrested and taken to hospital. Police say he was conscious and able to speak following the collision, but the man’s lawyer has since revealed the hostage-taker has succumbed to his injuries. All hostages are reported to be safe and unharmed.
At a press conference on Tuesday night, at around 12.30am, the Amsterdam triangle – made up of the city’s mayor, the public prosecutor, and the police – announced that the gunman was a 27-year-old from Amsterdam with a criminal record for possession of illegal firearms. He is said to have demanded 200 million euros in crypto in exchange for the safe return of the hostages.
“The suspect constantly had the hostage at gunpoint and threatened to blow himself up,” explained Amsterdam Chief of Police Frank Paauw at the press conference. “We had the impression that the suspect did not know exactly how many people were in the building.” Deputy Mayor Rutger Groot Wassink thanked the emergency services for their response to the situation.
Images and videos emerged on social media on Tuesday evening, one photo showing the hostage and hostage-taker sitting together inside the Apple Store. While the police say they continue to “investigate all possible scenarios,” they believe the gunman acted alone.
Paauw praised the hostage for his quick thinking: “The hostage has played a heroic role by ensuring a breakthrough. It could have been a long night otherwise.”