18-year-old that caused panic in Kortrijk and Waregem on Thursday sent to Bruges Gaol

An 18-year-old man that was caused the evacuation of a college of higher education in Kortrijk and a lockdown in nearby Waregem on Thursday has now been officially arrested on suspicion of the passion of illegal weapons and making threats. He will also be examined by a psychologist and a psychiatrist. 

The young man was apprehended on Thursday after a search that had taken much of day. 12,000 people in Waregem (West Flanders) were ordered to stay inside for several hours on Thursday as police searched for what they believed was an armed man. Once the suspect was apprehended it transpired that the gun that he was carrying was an airsoft weapon, an air riffle that can be used to fire pellets but looks like a real gun. 

On Thursday morning the Vives College of Higher Education in Kortrijk was evacuated and later thousands of people in nearby Waregem, where someone reported having seen the 18-year-old, were placed under lockdown. The search continued until early on Thursday evening when the man was found in the village of Avelgem. 

After having been questioned by police, the 18-year-old appeared before an Examining Magistrate on Saturday morning. The Examining Magistrate decided that he should be sent to Bruges prison on remand. A psychologist and a psychiatrist will be appointed to assess his mental state.

The suspect's mother says that he has long suffered from mental health issued caused by cannabis use. Tom Janssens of the West Flemish Judicial Authorities told VRT News that the Examining Magistrate wants this to be verified by experts. 

"Within the framework of the investigation it is important to ascertain to what extent his mental state makes him criminally responsible”.

The Judicial Authorities also have questions that they want answering about Thursday’s events. The young man is reported to have spoken to several acquaintances which he was on the run.

"What particular disturbs us is that a man that half of West Flanders was looking for was in touch with a lot of people he knew and they knew that he was being sought. These people were all active on social media, but none of them acted responsibly and called the police”, Mr Janssens told VRT News. 

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