Shock as policeman kills family

18th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

18 April 2005, AMSTERDAM — The Dutch city of Hilversum has been stunned by the deaths of five members of a local family in a murder-suicide on Friday night.

18 April 2005

AMSTERDAM — The Dutch city of Hilversum has been stunned by the deaths of five members of a local family in a murder-suicide on Friday night.

Frans Nijhoff, a 46-year-old senior officer with the national police force KLPD, shot and killed his 42-year-old wife José with his service pistol in their home on the Hilvertsweg on Friday night.

He then killed his three sons, Pim, 8, Bram, 6, and Max, 3, before turning the gun on himself.

The four were in bed and may have been sleeping when shot. Nijhoff killed himself in another part of the house.

His brother Peter and other family members discovered the bodies at about 12.30pm on Saturday. The police investigation is trying to establish a motive for the killing.

Marianne, Frans Nijhoff's sister, visited the family home again on Sunday with her husband. They did not enter the house, but walked around it and hugged each other as they cried.

"I had to come back one more time to have a look," Marianne said. "The family is bewildered, it is completely absurd. We are holding each other tightly and finding support in each other. Frans and his wife were such fun and sweet people."

Marianne's husband added that everyone had been welcome in the house and that the extended family had no explanation for the murders, newspaper 'De Telegraaf' reported on Monday.

Residents have expressed deep shock at the deaths and flowers were laid at the house over the weekend. "It is unbelievable that something like this could happen in this neighbourhood", was a common reaction on Saturday and Sunday.

Teachers gathered on Sunday at the primary school Montessorischool-Zuid that two of the murdered boys attended. Teachers informed parents of the tragedy during the weekend and an official statement expressed "horror and grief" at the shootings.

Parents have also expressed shock at the deaths and social workers of the victim assistance bureau Slachtofferhulp have been called into the school to provide counselling and support to pupils.

"You simply don't understand what has happened," one mother who brought her child to school on Monday said. "You never think that it can also happen here. It has haunted me the entire weekend. It is incomprehensible."

The school will devote a large amount of time to help pupils and the school community come to terms with the tragedy. A commemorative plaque was placed in the school hall on Monday and pupils were allowed to go home after 10.30am.

A large number of parents waited in a building further along the street, as did social workers. Prior to the start of school, classmates placed flowers and candles at the house of the murdered family.

Hilversum Mayor Ernst Bakker urged the media during a press conference on Saturday to be considerate in how they report on the family, school and city district. He also said the council was opening a condolence register on Monday.

"I cannot say anything else other than to say that this is an appalling tragedy. Everyone on the city council has been profoundly affected," Bakker said.

The KLPD also expressed dismay at the murder-suicide. Police chief Peter van Zunderd said he was completely confounded and deeply shocked. The news hit particularly hard among Nijhoff's colleagues at the police unit Ouder-Amstel.

Nijhoff was authorised to keep his service pistol at home. The KLPD said on Sunday that every police officer is required to leave their gun in a safe at work unless they are granted an exemption.

If officers are allowed to take their weapon home, the gun must also be stored in a safe.

The Dutch police union has ruled out a link between the deaths and the work pressure officers operate under. A spokesman also dismissed as irrelevant questions as to whether service pistols should be allowed to be taken home.

"If someone wants to kill their family and themselves, they will do it anyway," he said.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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