Amsterdam Apple shop hostage-taker sought 200M-euro ransom

Police vehicles cordon off a wide area in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022, where an armed person is holed up in the Amsterdam Apple Store with at least one hostage in an hours-long standoff with scores of police massed outside. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
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Associated Press

AMSTERDAM (AP) — A gunman who held a hostage for hours in the Apple Store in Amsterdam demanded a ransom of 200 million euros (more than $226 million) in cryptocurrencies before he was run over by police as he chased his hostage out of the shop, police and prosecutors said Wednesday.

The tense, five-hour standoff paralyzed one of Amsterdam’s most popular nightlife neighborhoods for hours Tuesday as scores of heavily armed police surrounded the store, managing to free about 70 people from the building that houses the shop before the suspect was detained.

Police Chief Frank Paauw said the suspect, a 27-year-old man from Amsterdam armed with a handgun and an automatic weapon and wearing camouflaged clothing, was run over by police as he chased his fleeing hostage. The hostage was a Bulgarian man, police said. They didn’t release his identity.

“The hostage played a sort of hero’s role by, in that split second that he had, forcing a breakthrough in this situation,” Paauw said at a news conference in the early hours of the morning. “Otherwise it could have been a very long and unpleasant night and maybe longer.”

After the suspect was run over, a robot checked him for explosives as snipers in nearby buildings took aim, green laser beams from their weapons clearly visible in the night sky. In contacts with police, the suspect had threatened to blow himself up.

Police said Wednesday that he had “explosive components,” but that they weren’t armed.

Paauw said the man was taken to a hospital with serious injuries. He remained hospitalized Wednesday under police guard. Police said they were investigating his exact motive.

Investigations were continuing Wednesday, including searching two homes in Amsterdam. The Apple Store was listed on the company’s website as being closed Wednesday and Thursday. Bullet holes could be seen in the store’s windows.