Brussels is inundated by drug-related violence, leading to a fatal shooting on Wednesday morning. EPA-EFE/JOSE COELHO


Fourth Brussels shooting leads to first death and ‘looks like an execution’, says city Mayor


A person was shot and killed in the early hours of February 14 in the Brussels commune of Saint-Gilles, the fourth firearms incident in the city in quick succession.

The latest shooting reportedly took place at the same spot as a gun assault a day earlier.

Brussels appears to be engulfed in a wave of violence, said the city Mayor.

The deadly attack on February 14 happened at the Jacques Franck Square, near the Halle Gate, where a shooting occurred on the afternoon of the previous day. The area is close to Lacaille Street, where two other people were seriously injured in a separate gun incident.

Saint-Gilles Mayor Jean Spinette, of the Socialist party, told La Première radio station that drug dealers had “taken the city hostage”.

“Yesterday it was still about intimidation, today it looks more like an execution,” he said of the latest attack.

“The dealers apparently feel untouchable. After yesterday’s incident, they returned to the park almost immediately to start dealing again.

“I asked the police to act and last night another person was arrested but even after that the dealers returned,” Spinette claimed.

“I once again appeal for serious action to tackle this problem with the entire chain of police and judiciary.”

The Mayor said the fatal shooting was an “execution of the dealer who was in place”.

“The Federal Judicial Police is on the ground this morning,” he added.

On the same day, at 1.30am, shots were fired at a night-shop on South Avenue, although no one was injured. One suspect reportedly fled on a scooter.

In the February 13 assault, a “weapon of war” was reportedly used in the area that is, according to locals, a well-known “drive-in” where drugs are sold.

The shooters discharged their weapons into the air, according to the Mayor, in an effort to intimidate people.

Then, while escaping the scene in a car, a woman who was with her granddaughter was hit by gunfire.

When the car stopped at Grondelsstraat, those inside are said to have fled on foot.

Spinette said rival gangs often use such “terror techniques”. “They fire in the air with a weapon of war to frighten others, in the context of a turf war,” he said.

“And they don’t give a damn if it’s a Shrove Tuesday day with kids, grandmothers …”

The suspects have been arrested but “with complete impunity, they come back”, the Mayor claimed.

Spinette said the police arrests dealers, often “undocumented or minors, or both”, but complained that prosecutors then simply “release them”.

This meant, according to the Mayor, the city is suffering under “drug capitalism”, where a Mafia-type organisation holds the reins and the local population is scared of gangsters.

He demanded a heavily increased police presence to deal with the problem.

On the evening of February 13, a VRT TV crew visited a local drugs hot-spot in Anderlecht. Scenes showed discarded drug paraphernalia strewn about and police urged the TV crew to wear stab-resistant vests.