Over 100 weapons found during Antwerp raid that resulted in fatal shooting
Over 100 weapons were found during a house search in the Antwerp district of Merksem on Wednesday morning that resulted in one death. A large quantity of ammunition, tactical vests, night vision goggles, and thermal scopes were also found, the Belgian federal prosecutor's office reports.
A total of six suspects were arrested in other searches carried out as part of the operation.
"They are suspected of intending to commit a form of armed resistance against the government, without a concrete goal or timing having already been determined," the prosecutor's office said.
The search was carried out as part of an ongoing investigation by the federal public prosecutor's office into preparations for a terrorist attack and breaches of arms legislation in the far-right milieu. Investigators raided about a dozen locations in the Belgian municipalities of Merksem, Zandvliet, Antwerp, Deurne, Berchem, Kasterlee and Ghent on Wednesday morning.
In Merksem, Antwerp, police raided the home of Yannick V., a 36-year-old gold and silver dealer who collected weapons and military items and was a sport shooter. When the special units of the federal police raided the residence in question, a shooting occurred. Yannick V. was killed in the process. Over 100 weapons and a very large quantity of ammunition were found in the residence, according to the federal prosecutor's office.
"Tactical vests, night vision goggles, heat vision goggles, etc. were also found," the prosecutor's office stated. "Large quantities of weapons and ammunition were also found in the other searches carried out, ten in total. Six persons were brought in for questioning. The investigating judge will later decide whether they will be brought before him."
According to several Belgian media outlets, Yannick V. was a so-called "doom prepper" preparing for the collapse of society. In a "prepping issue" for Macrotrends magazine, he described his view of the future and how people could best arm themselves for that scenario with food reserves and firearms. According to Yannick V., firearms were crucial because he believed the Netherlands and Belgium to be one of the most densely populated areas in the world.
The man allegedly regularly expressed sympathies with far-right ideas on social media, profiling himself as a "sovereign citizen". Those sovereign citizens form a movement that is radically anti-government. His posts are also said to show that he wanted to put himself outside of society and aligned himself with conspiracy theories, including about the Covid-19 pandemic.
A police officer at the scene in Merksem, Antwerp, where a police raid resulted in a fatal shooting © BELGA PHOTO JONAS ROOSENS