Dutch defense minister concerned about US gun violence
PRAGUE (AP) — Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren expressed concern Tuesday about gun violence in the United States in the aftermath of a shooting in Indianapolis over the weekend that left one Dutch soldier dead and two wounded.
“We do many trainings of our servicemen in the United States, and we really don’t expect this to happen. So it’s very, very concerning for us.” Ollongren told The Associated Press at a meeting of European Union defense ministers in Prague.
A 26-year-old member of the Dutch Commando Corps, identified by U.S. authorities as Simmie Poetsema, died of his injuries “surrounded by family and colleagues,” the Dutch Defense Ministry said in a statement Monday.
Poetsema and the two other soldiers were shot after what Indianapolis police believe was a disturbance outside the hotel where they were staying about 3:30 a.m. Saturday near several downtown bars and nightclubs, authorities said. The soldiers were in the U.S. for training exercises at a southern Indiana military base.
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said Monday that the soldiers had returned to the hotel after a “scuffle” at a bar and were outside when the gunfire came from what he called “a drive-by shooting.”
Indianapolis police declined to confirm Hogsett’s account Tuesday or release more information on the circumstances or the investigation of the shooting. No arrests have been announced.
Ollongren declined to comment on the shooting while investigations continue. She said there is “good contact” between Dutch military police and authorities in Indianapolis.
“We have read things in the media, we have heard what the mayor said but we feel it’s very important to have a real thorough investigation. So we’re waiting for that until we comment on what actually happened,” she said.
Ollongren said U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin contacted her Monday “to express his regrets and his condolences.”
Hogsett said he believed the city’s downtown area was safe and that city officials were working to reduce violence.
“Too often, not just in Indianapolis, conflict resolution has become just people pulling out guns and shooting each other,” Hogsett said.