Crime reporter Peter R de Vries, known for his work in exposing the Dutch underworld, is fighting for life after being gunned down on a street in Amsterdam.
“Peter R de Vries was shot down in Lange Leidsedwarsstraat,” police said in a statement, referring to a street near one of the city’s largest public squares.
De Vries was shot in the head after leaving an interview with Dutch broadcaster RTL in downtown Amsterdam.
He was taken to a nearby hospital in a “serious condition” as police called for eyewitnesses.
They cordoned off the scene of the shooting as crowds gathered later on Tuesday (local time).
Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema said the 64-year-old was “fighting for his life”.
“He is a national hero to us all. A rare, courageous journalist who tirelessly sought justice,” he told the BBC.
Police said three people had been arrested, including the suspected shooter, but they did not reveal a reason for the attack.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the attack was “shocking and inconceivable”.
“It’s an attack on a courageous journalist and by extension an attack on the freedom of the press, which is so essential for our democracy and rule of law,” he said.
“We are praying that he will survive.”
Amsterdam’s Parool newspaper published an image of the scene with several people gathered around a person lying on the ground.
“It just went on, four or five times,” one witness told the paper of the shooting.
De Vries won an international Emmy Award in the current affairs category in 2008 for his work investigating the disappearance of teenager Natalee Holloway on the Caribbean island of Aruba in 2005.
He is a celebrity in the Netherlands as a frequent commentator on television crime programs and an expert crime reporter with sources in law enforcement and the underworld.
He is also known for investigative work on countless cases, notably following the 1983 kidnapping of beer magnate Freddy Heineken.
De Vries has been subjected to threats from the criminal underworld in the past in connection with several cases.
In 2013 Willem Holleeder, the Heineken kidnapper, was convicted of making threats against de Vries.
Holleeder is serving a life sentence for his involvement in five murders.
In 2019 Ridouan Taghi, who is on trial for murder and drug trafficking, took the unusual step of making a public statement denying reports that he had threatened to have de Vries killed.
De Vries has been acting as a counsellor, but not lawyer, to a state witness identified as Nabil B. He is testifying in the case against Taghi and his alleged associates.
Nabil B’s previous lawyer was shot and killed on an Amsterdam street in September 2019.