Hostage-taker dies of injuries after standoff at Amsterdam Apple Store

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By AP  with Euronews
Police vehicles cordon off a wide area in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Feb. 22, 2022, where an armed person is holed up in the Amsterdam Apple Store
Police vehicles cordon off a wide area in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Feb. 22, 2022, where an armed person is holed up in the Amsterdam Apple Store   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Peter Dejong

The gunman who took another person hostage inside an Apple Store in Amsterdam has died of his injuries.

Dutch police brought an end to an hours-long standoff late on Tuesday by driving into the suspected hostage-taker.

Police Chief Frank Paauw confirmed that the suspect -- a 27-year-old man from Amsterdam -- was run over by a police car as he chased his hostage out of the building.

The man -- who had a criminal record -- later died of the injuries he sustained during his arrest, public prosecutors said on Wednesday.

The gunman had been armed with a handgun and an automatic weapon and was wearing camouflaged clothing, Paauw added.

The first officers dispatched to the scene were shot at with an automatic weapon, the police chief said.

Police had earlier confirmed on Wednesday that the man also had “explosive components,” but that they weren’t armed.

He had demanded a ransom of €200 million in cryptocurrencies and was threatening to blow himself up, prosecutors stated on Wednesday.

"We are investigating the possible motives of the hostage-taker and the explosives he carried on his body," a statement read.

Local broadcaster AT5 suggested the standoff was the result of an attempted armed robbery.

The hostage -- a Bulgarian national -- was safe, as were four people who had hidden in a cupboard without the suspect's knowledge.

The man has been praised by Dutch police for their role in ending the police operation.

“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.

“Otherwise it could have been a very long and unpleasant night and maybe longer.”

Dozens of police, including heavily armed specialist arrest teams, massed around the store, cleared and sealed off the nearby Leidseplein square and urged people living there or in shops or cafes nearby to remain indoors. The square -- ringed by bars and restaurants -- is close to one of the Dutch capital’s main shopping streets.

Police said dozens of people managed to leave the building during the standoff.

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.

"We are so incredibly grateful and relieved that our employees and customers in Amsterdam are safe after this terrifying experience," Apple said in a statement.