A well-known Dutch crime journalist was gunned down in one of Amsterdam’s largest plazas Tuesday.
Local police said in a statement, “Peter R. de Vries was shot down in Lange Leidsedwarsstraat.” De Vries, 64, had visited broadcaster RTL’s television studio that evening and appeared on a talk show. He is now in “serious condition,” police said, and Amsterdam’s mayor said he was “fighting for his life.” Video showed a wound to de Vries’ head, the BBC reported, and RTL reported that eyewitnesses heard five shots fired at close range.
The alleged shooter and two others have been arrested. Authorities are on the hunt for another suspect identified in CCTV footage.
The reporter has won awards for his stories on the criminal underworld—for which he has received threats against his life—and became well known to Americans for his investigative work on the disappearance of Natalee Holloway in Aruba in 2005. He won an international Emmy in 2008 for the investigation.
Beth Holloway, Natalee’s mother, has kept in touch with de Vries and his family since the two worked together on stories about her daughter.
She told The Daily Beast, “It’s actually devastating. I’m just praying that he will pull through.”
“It’s hard to absorb and process that something this horrific could happen,” she continued. “And I know it’s night time there now, so let’s hope and pray we get a better update in the morning. I’m just going to remain hopeful.”
Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema called de Vries a “rare, courageous journalist who tirelessly sought justice.”
“He was seriously wounded and is fighting for his life. He is a national hero to us all,” Halsema said, condemning the shooting as a “cruel, heartless attack.” The Netherlands’ prime minister also expressed support for de Vries.
A convicted kidnapper and murderer was found guilty of making threats against de Vries in 2013. More recently, the journalist had been acting as a confidant and adviser to a witness known as Nabil B, a former gang member, in a high-profile case against an alleged drug kingpin. Ridouan Taghi, listed by Interpol as one of Europe’s most-wanted fugitives, was arrested in Dubai in 2019 on charges of murder and drug trafficking, and his trial in the Netherlands is ongoing. That same year, Nabil B’s lawyer, Derk Wiersum, was assassinated in front of his home. Taghi has denied threatening de Vries’ life.