The man who killed three people in a knife and gun rampage through the Belgian city of Liege carried out an act of "terrorist murder," prosecutors said Wednesday, and authorities were trying to establish whether he acted alone.
Benjamin Herman, an inmate on a two-day release, attacked two female police officers with a knife from behind, stabbing them repeatedly, before stealing their weapons and shooting them as they lay on the ground, officials said. Crossing the road, he fired several shots at a 22-year-old man who was a passenger in a car, killing him. Herman then took at least one woman hostage at a nearby school. When police closed in, he ran out onto the sidewalk firing, and police fatally shot him.
He yelled "Allahu akbar," the Arabic phrase for “God is great,” several times during the rampage, authorities said.
Belgian federal magistrate Wenke Roggen said Wednesday that the attack was considered "terrorist murder." She said it was being treated as terrorism given the way Herman acted, which she says resembled Islamic State calls via video to attack police with knives and steal their weapons, and the facts that he yelled "Allahu akbar" and was in contact with radicalized people.
Earlier, Interior Minister Jan Jambon confirmed that Herman had already killed another person the day before the attack.
Jambon also said that the woman he took hostage may have talked the shooter down and helped to avoid more deaths inside the school.