Suspect arrested after Brussels shootings

Police in Brussels have arrested one person in connection with one of two shootings that took place on Tuesday night. The man was present in the night shop that was the target of the first shooting. 

The man's involvement in the events is still under investigation, the Brussels public prosecutor's office said.

"At around 1.30, the police of the Brussels-Capital/Ixelles zone were called to reports of shots fired towards a night shop on the Boulevard du Midi," the prosecutor's office said. 

"According to initial findings, a car with several people in it drove past the night shop and shots were fired from the car. No one was injured. Several bullet casings were found at the scene," the prosecutor's office said. A person present in the shop was detained and questioned by police. 

Second shooting leaves one dead

A few hours later, at around 5.50, a second shooting took place on Square Jacques Franck in Saint-Gilles. A man was shot and killed, the prosecutor's office said. 

"The public prosecutor's office was contacted and immediately summoned an investigating magistrate, a forensic doctor and a ballistics expert. They came to the scene this morning, along with the Federal Judicial Police laboratory," the prosecutor's office added.

"As the facts are still very recent, the investigations into these two shootings are in full swing and it is not possible to provide any further information at this time," they said. "At this stage, all avenues remain open and investigations are under way to determine if and how the shootings may be related."

Four shootings in three days

The two shootings are ​ the latest in a rapid succession of incidents in and around the municipality of Saint-Gilles. In less than three days, there have been four shootings in the same area. 

Four shootings have taken place in less than three days in and around the Brussels municipality of Saint-Gilles © INFOGRAPHIC BELGA
Four shootings have taken place in less than three days in and around the Brussels municipality of Saint-Gilles © INFOGRAPHIC BELGA

The first shooting took place on Sunday evening on Rue Lacaille in the Marolles neighbourhood, injuring two people. On Tuesday, at around 14.00, shots were fired in the air on Square Jacques Franck. While no one was injured by the bullets fired, the perpetrators hit a woman and collided with several vehicles while fleeing the scene by car.

Saint-Gilles faces 'mafia organisations'

The mayor of Saint-Gilles, Jean Spinette, is sounding the alarm about the violence between drug dealers on the streets of his municipality. "We are facing mafia organisations," he said in a radio broadcast on RTBF on Wednesday.

The police are not just standing by but are powerless against criminals who resume their activities as soon as they are released, Spinette said. He spoke of gangs "holding our neighbourhoods hostage" and mercilessly fighting for a profitable market, sometimes using "terror techniques".

"We are not dealing with small dealers where the neighbour comes to buy his recreational drugs. A lot of money is involved. Seizures take place every week, large sums of money are involved," he said.

He called for the problem to be tackled at a higher level. "We have to dismantle the networks," he said. "To do that, we need financial investigations and we need to map the money flows."



Police at the scene where a person was shot dead on Square Jacques Franck in Saint-Gilles on Wednesday morning, 14 February 2024 © BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK

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