Netherlands mourns victims of mall shooting

09:13, April 11, 2011      

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Thousand of people gathered in the Dutch city of Alphen aan den Rijn Sunday evening to mourn the victims of Saturday's deadly shooting rampage at a shopping center.

"A man has weakened many of us with a senseless act," said Mayor Bas Eenhoorn, opening the commemorative event by calling Saturday "a very black day."

"We never thought something like this could happen here in Alphen. Great to have you here to think about such a terrible thing. We will come back stronger, but will never forget," he said.

On Saturday, a gunmen killed six people before taking his own life. Seventeen people were injured, twelve of them still in the hospital.

All the victims lived in Alphen. The 24-year-old shooter, Tristan van der Vlis, killed a woman aged 91 and a men of 80.

No motive has been established following initial investigations. Van der Vlis spent ten days in a closed institution in 2006 after suffering from suicidal symptoms, police said. In 2003, he wounded himself with an air gun. Before the killing, Van der Vlis had been unemployed for a number of weeks and appeared to be feeling down.

The mayor praised the people who tried to stop the killer while the shooting was in progress. "They are the heroes of The Ridderhof," he said. "One of them even died when trying to save someone else's live."

For his part, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said that "some events are impossible to understand and this was such an event."

"People were shopping with each other and it ended in horror. A drama that leaves deep wounds in the community of Alphen," Rutte said.

"It is an incomprehensible act of a loner who killed innocent people," Rutte continued. "In hospitals some victims are fighting for their lives. For everyone who was involved, it is a terrible day. I spoke to the Queen this afternoon and she is mourning with you intensely. All of The Netherlands is mourning with you."

The gathering concluded with a moment of silence and a wreath- laying ceremony near the shopping center.

Source: Xinhua
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