Prosecutors recommended that the District Court in Rotterdam convict John S. for the murders of two people at a mental care facility located on a farm in Alblasserdam, the assault of two others at the farm, and the murder of a cobbler in Vlissingen. The Public Prosecution Service (OM) said during a hearing on Tuesday that a 30-year prison sentence was appropriate, along with an additional period of mandatory institutionalization in a psychiatric facility.
S. is accused of killing the 60-year-old shoemaker on May 4 at the victim’s business on Sint Jacobstraat. The two met each other through a dating app for gay men, and set up an appointment to meet in person. “Once there, the suspect shot and killed this shop owner. He later stated that he did this because he wanted to test the weapon he had purchased,” the OM said.
Two days later, S. traveled to the care farm in Alblasserdam, where he previously lived from 2015-2017. Once there, prosecutors claim he shot and killed a 34-year-old employee of the farm, and a 16-year-old girl who was present there. Two other people were critically injured in the violent incident, identified as a 12-year-old boy and a 20-year-old woman.
Prosecutors alleged that S. went to the farm because he had been stalking an 18-year-old client. He met the woman when she was a minor, and had attempted to coerce her into a relationship despite her rebuke. His pursuit of her was why he was no longer allowed on the farm. Before the assault at the Alblasserdam facility, S. allegedly sent photos of the murdered shopkeeper to the woman, photos of the weapon, and other images which she interpreted as a threat.
After the murders, S. reportedly called police to turn himself in, and confessed to the violent crimes.
“How do you find the right words to express how serious the shooting of three random people is, how bad it is that you buy a gun, threaten an innocent lady and then shoot an innocent man in broad daylight to test your weapon?” the prosecutor said. “I’ve been back a few more times and the loveliness of the place contrasts so horribly with the hell that suspect has made of this,” the prosecutor said of the crime scene.
The OM said the suspect has a psychological disorder that requires institutional care, and that S. must still be held accountable for the viciousness of the crimes. A crime reporter said S. did not flinch when he heard the prosecutor’s recommendation.
The relatives of the victims had their chance to speak in court on Monday. The parents of 16-year-old Ann-Sofie, who was shot dead, showed photos in the courtroom and extensively talked about their daughter. She had a mild intellectual disability. “You never know how much time you get with the people you love. I never thought our time with Ann-Sofie would be so short,” her mother said, ANP reports. “She was always happy. She chatted and sang all day long. She followed her heart and wanted to care for horses when she grew up. With her love of horses, humor, and perseverance, she achieved so much.
The 13-year-old boy who survived also spoke in court. “I pretended to be dead, so you wouldn’t shoot me again,” he said. He hasn’t dared to return to the care farm since. “I’m scared all the time, I prefer to wear a bulletproof vest. You ruined my life, and I hope one day I don’t have to be so scared anymore.”
His mother moved him to a different care facility. He picked it because there were lots of places to hide if something happened, she told the court. “A child of 13 should not have to think about that.