Skip to main content

Belgium Jewish museum shooter was carrying camera -- official

By Paul Cruickshank and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
updated 12:28 PM EDT, Tue May 27, 2014
  • Police think gunman was carrying a camera, a Belgian law enforcement official says
  • Investigators do not believe the attack was a "hit" targeting an Israeli couple who were killed
  • "We believe they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time," says official
  • Police are struggling to identify the shooter from footage because he wore a baseball cap

(CNN) -- Belgian police are now confident that a shooter who killed three people at the Jewish Museum of Belgium was carrying a camera to record the attack, a senior Belgian law enforcement official told CNN Tuesday.

Initial analysis of the surveillance footage from Saturday's attack in Brussels had not conclusively shown he was carrying a video camera.

However, the police still do not have leads on the identity or the whereabouts of the shooter, nor on the gunman's specific motivation or ideological background, the official said.

The official told CNN that investigators do not believe the attack was a "hit" targeting an Israeli couple who were two of those killed.

Belgium's Jewish community security fears

There has been media speculation in the past several days in Israel and Belgium that the couple had ties to Israeli intelligence agencies.

"It's clear from the surveillance video that the Israeli couple were not specifically targeted by the gunman. We believe they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time," the official said.

"If they had been the specific target, the gunman would not have continued with his attack by entering the museum."

The two Israelis killed were a couple in their 50s from Tel Aviv, Israel's Foreign Ministry said. The third victim was a French woman.

A fourth person shot, a Belgian national who works at the museum, remains in critical condition, deputy public prosecutor Ine Van Wymersch said Monday. That contradicted museum spokeswoman Chouna Lomponda, who said Sunday that the fourth person had died.

AK-47 assault rifle

Images from the museum in Brussels show the gunman behind Saturday's deadly attack approaching the building, opening fire, and walking away.

He used an AK-47 assault rifle to carry out the shooting, police said Sunday.

Photographs and video released by Belgian police show the man wearing a cap and blue shirt, carrying two bags over his shoulder. The images do not show his face clearly.

The shooter left on foot after the attack and headed toward a different part of downtown Brussels before he disappeared, according to police.

Authorities are hunting the suspect, who is believed to have acted alone, Van Wymersch said. Investigators hope the public will help to identify the suspect.

Terrorism has not been ruled out, Van Wymersch said Monday.

Could the killer attack again?

It has been challenging to identify the killer because he was wearing a baseball cap, the senior Belgian law enforcement official told CNN on Monday.

There is concern that the gunman could strike again, the official said, and that authorities could be dealing with a "Mohammed Merah" type of killer.

Merah, a French-Algerian Islamist radical who received terror training with al Qaeda-linked militants in Pakistan, shot and killed three French paratroopers in two attacks in March 2012 before killing three schoolchildren and their teacher at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, during a 10-day shooting rampage which he filmed with a camera attached to his torso.

But the official stressed that no evidence has emerged in Saturday's attack in pointing to any link to Islamist terrorism.

The official said the killer shot the Israeli couple first in the museum entryway with one of his weapons. The couple had been consulting the wall display. He then pulled out a Kalashnikov assault rifle and shot the others inside the museum.

Surveillance cameras picked up the killer walking on two or three streets before he disappeared. The official said the killer appeared to be skilled in using weapons and likely planned the attack meticulously.

The official stressed Belgian authorities are investigating all possible angles, including Islamist terrorism, neo-Nazi attack, and other categories.

With regard to the threat from Islamist terrorism, he noted there has been longstanding concern over the 100 or so Belgian Islamist extremists who received training in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region over the years, and high current concern over several hundred who have more recently traveled to fight in Syria. The concern is they might be able to use skills acquired there to launch attacks back home.

Belgium's Interior Ministry raised its terror alert level in the wake of the attack.

CNN's Pierre Meilhan and Elwyn Lopez contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:43 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
A captured fighter tells CNN's Ivan Watson: "They gave us drugs... that made you go to battle."
updated 9:31 AM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
A terminally ill woman who plans to take her own life checks off the last item.
updated 7:40 PM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
In a plot straight out of Hollywood, federal agents gain access to a suspected Triad boss' Vegas hotel room by pretending to fix the Internet connection.
updated 12:34 AM EDT, Fri October 31, 2014
Was it only black and Latino men who harassed a woman in NYC? The filmmaker has found himself in a race controversy.
updated 10:15 AM EDT, Fri October 31, 2014
The history of human rights often overlooks the struggles of gay people. This must change.
updated 9:15 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Armed with Kalashnikovs and chanting for the dead comrades, women are among ISIS' most feared enemies. They are fighting for their families -- and now they are getting U.S. help.
updated 8:46 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
Lere Mgayiya put his best foot forward and set up a shoe-shine firm after his career plans fell flat.
updated 1:28 AM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
One Chinese drone manufacturer wants to take away the warmongering stigma of "drones."
updated 11:12 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Sketcher Luis Simoes is traveling the world -- slowly. And he's packed his sketchbook.
updated 4:43 PM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
European states help North Korea's brutal treatment of its people by allowing luxury goods like cars and cognacs to evade sanctions, two experts say.
updated 11:45 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Chinese leaders want less odd architecture built in the country.
updated 7:04 AM EDT, Fri October 31, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.