The reel-life drama turned out to be real: A 19-year-old Dutchman with a pistol forced his way into the studios of national broadcaster NOS yesterday (Jan 29).
He demanded to be allowed to go on air but was quickly arrested, officials said.
The man, clad in a black suit and tie, entered the studio after threatening a guard with a pistol, witnesses said.
It was unclear how he passed through security, which had increased after the attacks in Paris earlier this month.
Footage aired on Dutch TV showed the man pacing in the studio with a black pistol behind his back. AFP reported Dutch police saying the weapon was fake.
As the gunman entered the studios, NOS’s main news channel displayed a message that read: “In connection with circumstances, no broadcast is available at this time.”
The gunman had intended to speak on the most popular evening news broadcast.
Instead, a quick-thinking security guard led him to an empty studio.
“This is taking too long,” the man said.
Then police stormed into the studio yelling: “Drop it! Drop it! And get on your knees!”.
He dropped the gun, saying, “I dropped it. It’s dropped”, and the police put handcuffs on him and took him away.
The man lives in the central Dutch town of Pijnacker, near the university town Delft, officials said.
They refused to comment on media reports that he was a student whose parents had recently died and was not on a watch-list of Islamist militants.
Prosecutor Johan Bac said at a press conference the gunman was being questioned. He could be charged with kidnapping, possession of a firearm and threatening people with a weapon.
No one was hurt, but the NOS television broadcaster cancelled its two main nightly newscasts.
Bombs in different places
The man’s motive was unclear.
Police special forces swept the building for explosives and found nothing, police spokesman Christine Scholts said.
“We are currently investigating who this man is and what he wants,” she said.
The police are looking into claims that he had accomplices around the country, armed with explosives.
“He took the security guard hostage and said he wanted air time.
"If they didn’t give it to him, he said there would be bombs in different places in the Netherlands that would explode if he didn’t get time on TV."
Dutch Minister for Security and Justice Ivo Opstelten told the ANP national news agency that the man appeared to have acted alone.
Security has been tightened across Europe since jihadist attacks on the offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in Paris this month - as well as the killing of two gunmen in Belgium during raids on an Islamist group that authorities said were planning to attack police.
NOS television said the gunman appeared to be a student who had recently lost both parents.
It also said he did not figure on security services’ lists of suspected Islamist militants.
NOS produces the most widely-watched television newscast in the Netherlands.
It is based in the main national broadcast park in Hilversum.
Security has been tight there since populist politician Pim Fortuyn was shot outside a studio in 2002.
Sources: Reuters, AFP