In recent weeks, the police received four reports of people having been shot by an air rifle on the Melaan in the centre of Mechelen. The first report dates from the beginning of May. A further 3 incidents have been reported during the past two weeks. Three of the four people that reported having been shot at were injured.
Dirk Van de Sande of the Mechelen-Willebroek Local Police Service told VRT News that "An 11-year-old boy was hit in the lower back. A mother, who was walking with her son, was injured in the elbow. She even had to undergo surgery to remove the pellet. The last victim was injured in the upper arm last Wednesday. One woman was luckier, she was not injured but her jacket was damaged."
After an investigation, the police were able to detain a 51-year-old man from Mechelen. An air rifle and pellets were found at his home on the Thaborstraat.
The drainpipe at the rear of the man’s house was found to have large number of pellet impacts, which would suggest that he had used it for target practice. The man’s motives are still unclear. The man is now in custody pending further investigation. The police fear that the suspect may have shot more than the four people that have reported incidents to them so far. They are appealing for additional victims and witnesses to come forward.