A TEENAGER brandishing a fake weapon threatened a security guard to gain access to the headquarters of Dutch national broadcaster NOS and demand airtime before police stormed a TV studio to arrest him.
Nobody was injured in the incident on Thursday night – but it forced NOS off air for about an hour and set the nation on edge, coming just weeks after the deadly attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris that left 12 people dead.
When NOS came back on air, it showed recorded footage of the young man, who was wearing a black suit, white shirt and black tie, and carrying a pistol with what looked like a silencer attached.
Police later said the gun was a fake and that the man had no criminal record. Detectives are investigating possible motives.
Speaking calmly to someone off-camera, apparently the security guard he had forced to let him into the building, the man said: “We are hired in by intelligence agencies.”
Shortly afterwards, police burst in with their guns drawn and ordered the man to drop his weapon and put his hands up. At least five police officers then ordered him to turn around and lie down. The man was arrested without a struggle and taken to a nearby police station.
NOS reporter Martijn Bink said he had spoken to the man after he was arrested and he claimed to be from a hackers’ collective. He didn’t elaborate.
Police said the man had demanded airtime and threatened that bombs would go off at several locations around the Netherlands if his demand wasn’t met. Special police units evacuated the building and thoroughly searched it but allowed staff back in later after finding nothing suspicious.
Prosecutor Johan Bac, who spoke at a news conference in Hilversum, said the man came from the small town of Pijnacker near The Hague. Mr Bac said he was being held on suspicion of making a threat, weapons possession and taking a hostage. The suspect’s name wasn’t released by the prosecutor.
Officials said they were still investigating the man’s background and the seriousness of his threat.
“There is a major investigation under way to get clarity as quickly as possible about what happened here tonight,” Mr Bac said. There was no immediate indication that the incident was related to Islamic extremism.
Police spokeswoman Christine Scholts said investigators were attempting to determine “who this man is and what he wants”.
The media park in Hilversum, 12 miles east of Amsterdam, is home to NOS and many other Dutch broadcasters. It has been tightly guarded for years, since populist Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn was gunned down in a car park there in 2002 by an animal rights activist.
“This is your worst nightmare, especially after Charlie Hebdo,” NOS director Jan de Jong said later on a special news show.
Mr De Jong said that the network’s already tight security would be reviewed again. But he added: “We don’t want to turn this into a bunker.”