Sunday, April 10, 2011

Dutch town in shock after shooting rampage

(Reuters) - A gunman's deadly rampage through a shopping mall was met on Sunday with disbelief by residents of a quiet Dutch town who once thought such carnage couldn't happen in their country.

Dressed in camouflage trousers and a bomber jacket, Tristan van der Vlis opened fire in a parking lot on Saturday and walked calmly into Ridderhof mall, where he killed five people, most of them elderly. He wounded 17 others, one of whom died later.

The 24-year-old gun club member then shot and killed himself.

"This is something you usually see in America, not in the Netherlands," said local resident Martin van der Ploeg as he fixed his motorbike near the mall in Alphen aan den Rijn, 46 km (29 miles) south of Amsterdam.

The town lies between the university cities of Leiden and Utrecht, near the area of the Netherlands famous for growing tulips and other bulbs.

"Dutch people consider themselves down to earth. We don't have this sort of excess," Van der Ploeg said. "This was my home, my sanctuary, where I need to feel safe, and now that's gone."


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