Dignitaries nationwide including the King and Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt have expressed deep shock: “We must not let society be sucked into a spiral of violence and hatred,” said Verhofstadt. “Our society has always been one of tolerance and things must remain that way.”
Far-right leaflets were found in the long black coat worn by the gunman, who came from a staunchly radical background – his grandfather fought alongside the Nazis and his aunt is a prominent member of the nationalist Vlams Belang party which enjoys more than 30 percent support in Antwerp.
The killings have reignited a debate on increased arms control in Belgium and brought forward discussions on a new bill in parliament. The shop owner who sold the 9-mm rifle to the young man said he was devastated. Eighteen-year old Hans Van Themsche who was shot in the stomach remains in hospital where he is under guard.