A gunman has stormed an Apple store in central Amsterdam, holding a man hostage for several hours in a stand-off with police, while others hid in the building.
Gunshots were reported by multiple witnesses in the busy Leidseplein area early on Tuesday evening, as bystander footage broadcast by local news outlets showed a hooded individual inside the store holding what appeared to be a gun to another person’s head.
Just before 10pm local time (9pm GMT) – after a stand-off lasting nearly five hours, during which the suspect is said to have shot at law enforcement – Amsterdam Police announced the hostage-taker had exited the building and was under the control of armed police, while a robot searched him for explosives.
Police said they “managed to stop the hostage-taker by hitting him as he ran” from the store, and footage shared by news outlets showed him being struck by a car at high speed. He was not found to be carrying explosives and was taken to hospital.
The hostage is safe, police said, adding that they have since been able to bring “even more people who were in the building” to safety. Four people were later revealed to have hidden in a cupboard, unknown to the perpetrator.
Prior to the gunman’s capture, police said that dozens of people had been allowed to leave the Apple Store since the situation began, adding that these individuals would give witness statements at a police station and would receive victim support aftercare.
In total, 70 people were said to have been brought to safety.
Police said the suspect is a 27-year-old from Amsterdam. While inside the store, he made contact with local broadcaster AT5, which reported that he had demanded €200m in cryptocurrencies and threatened to blow himself up.
The incident prompted a vast law enforcement response, with armed officers, specialist units and a helicopter surrounding the store in the popular square, which is ringed by bars and restaurants and is close to one of the city’s main shopping streets.
The area was cordoned off, and local residents and those nearby were urged to stay indoors and to exercise restraint in publishing further footage, so as not to compromise the police operation and the safety of anyone held hostage.
“I had to run for my life,” one witness told AT5, which was broadcasting live from outside the store.
“I was standing on the zebra crossing opposite the apple store. An employee walked out in panic with a walkie-talkie yelling: ‘Robbery.’
“At that moment the penny hadn’t dropped yet and I was about to cross the zebra crossing opposite the entrance to the Apple store. And that’s when I heard gunshots inside.”
The Netherlands’ largest city saw a spate of four armed robberies of mobile phone stores in 2021, prompting some stores to remove most of their phone supplies, which were being targeted. However, none of the robberies had been in the city centre.
Gun violence is not uncommon in the Netherlands, but hostage takings are extremely rare.
In 2015 a man with a gun broke into a TV studio demanding screen time. No one was injured and the man was later convicted of hostage taking.