Radio 2

18-year-old armed with air riffle detained after evacuation and lockdown

An 18-year-old man that was the subject of a large-scale police search in Kortrijk and Waregem (both West Flanders) on Thursday has been apprehended. The young man that is reported to have mental health issues was apprehended in village of Avelgem on Thursday evening. He was armed with an air rifle. On Thursday morning the Vives College of Higher Education Campus in Kortrijk was evacuated after an armed man was spotted there. 

On Thursday afternoon the search for the armed man switched to Waregem, a few kilometres from Kortrijk. There around 12,000 people were told to stay inside as police searched for the armed man that had been spotted at the Vives Campus earlier in the day.

The young man was finally apprehended at around 6pm on Thursday evening in Avelgem. The Judicial Authorities said in a statement that the person apprehended was already known to them and to the police.

"At the time of his arrest he was in possession of an air soft weapon that was a perfect replica of a real gun”. 

The young man was taken to Kortrijk Police Station for questioning. An Examining Magistrate will decide on whether he will remain in custody.

The Special Forces Unit was able to apprehend the armed man in Avelgem thanks to a tip off from 15-year-old local schoolboy. 

This came after both the centre of Waregem had been put under lockdown. In Waregem all the schools in the centre of the town locked their gates and pupils were only allowed to return home once it had been confirmed that the man had been apprehended. Their parents were asked to wait for them at the Waregem Expo events hall.

Elsewhere, in the town, some public buildings such as the local Town Hall were also put under lockdown.

Earlier in the day around 4,000 students at the Vives College of Higher Education were evacuated.

The students were allowed to return to the Vives Campus later in the day to retrieve their belongings. 

Top stories