Student arrested after academic among three shot dead at Erasmus

Jurgen Damen named as lecturer killed in attack at Rotterdam teaching hospital

September 29, 2023
Erasmus University
Source: iStock

Three people, including an academic, have been shot dead at Erasmus University Medical Center, with a medical student under arrest.

Police were called to the Rotterdam teaching hospital on 28 September after a lecturer, Jurgen Damen, a 39-year-old woman and her 14-year-old daughter were shot. In a statement the centre said the shooter was one of its medical students and described the woman as his neighbour.

Reuters news agency reported the 32-year-old suspect’s name as Fouad L, with his last name hidden due to the Netherlands’ privacy laws. After the killings, a fire was started in Erasmus’ education centre before a man was arrested by a SWAT team on the centre’s helipad.

Prosecutors alerted Erasmus academics in May that the suspect had been convicted in 2021 for abusing his pet rabbit. He had earned enough credits to get a diploma, but the examining board required he undergo a psychological examination before being allowed to practise, a condition that he did not meet.

Apart from the prosecutors’ letter, the centre said it had not received any indication the suspect was dangerous. It said images on social media of staff fleeing buildings were “incorrect”.

Professor Damen is survived by a wife and child. Dutch media have reported that the 14-year-old victim had a twin sister who survived unharmed.

In a statement, Erasmus’ deans described the tragedy as a “pitch-black day for the entire university” and said their thoughts were “first and foremost with our late colleague, the other victims and their relatives”.

According to Reuters, prosecutors described the suspect as showing psychotic behaviour and having trouble with alcohol. His neighbours had complained about his treatment of animals, although alleged abuse incidents involving his dog, fish and birds did not result in convictions.

On 29 September the university set up a room to host students, staff and others involved, with two student hosts and a psychologist on hand. A separate meeting will be held for students and teachers at the medical centre. All teaching at the centre was cancelled for the day, although exams have been held at another campus.

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