Police have confirmed the death of a man of British origin in Aartselaar in Antwerp province. The man is reported to have died of gunshot wounds.
The shooting is reported to have taken place around 23.00 on Saturday evening on the Baron van Ertbornstraat, which runs parallel to the A12 and the E19, by the Solhof park and castle.
The street was closed to traffic as the scene was investigated by the judicial authorities, led by a coroner and a weapons expert.
The victim has been described as a British man aged 39, living in the town and having Eastern European roots. Whether that has anything to do with his murder remains to be seen.
According to witnesses, he pulled up in front of his apartment building in the town centre at around 23.00. As he exited his car he was immediately confronted with a gunman, who fired several shots. The victim died at the scene, and the gunman – or gunmen, a detail that remains unclear – fled, and remain at large.
Police speculate the killing was the work of professional assassins, as it was carried out with precision and allowed no time for witnesses to get a good look at the killer(s).
“It was just like in the movies,” one neighbour told the Gazet van Antwerpen at the weekend. “Walk up to the man and shoot him.”
According to one witness. The killer fired five or six shots in quick succession, then fled in a car driven by a confederate – a dark-coloured car fitted with yellow Dutch or Luxembourg plates. The witness said he rushed outside and found the victim lying on his front, bleeding heavily. The victim could not be helped.
The witness speculated that the murder weapon might have been an automatic weapon, as the shots followed each other closely. “It looked like a paintball gun,” he told GVA. “Only this was a real weapon.”
The victim has been named as Beld M., and the Antwerp prosecutor’s office confirmed he was not known to their services, other than in connection with a shop robbery in 2018, which also involved a known and feared Albanian gangster. M was present in 2016 when the gangster, Florenc Capja, was the object of an attempted assassination.
According to neighbours, M had little contact with local people. He spoke broken Dutch, but always greeted neighbours with a wave when they crossed in the street.
The investigation will now continue to pursue a professional hit as a likely line of enquiry.