The Unsolved Murders of the Brabant Killers
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The Brabant Killers
"The Brabant killers (also the Nijvel Gang (Dutch: De Bende van Nijvel, French: Les Tueurs du Brabant) are believed responsible for a series of violent attacks that mainly occurred in the Belgian province of Brabant between 1982 and 1985. Twenty-eight people died and 40 were injured. It's considered Belgium's most notorious unsolved crime spree.
The gang's trademarks were a) disproportionate and gratuitous violence for relatively small rewards, and b) indifference to the police response. The three most active participants, according to witnesses, were:
The Giant (tall man who may have been the leader);The Killer (shot most of the victims);The Old Man (mainly acted as the getaway driver).
The identities and whereabouts of the "Brabant killers" are unknown. One may have been killed after the last known robbery. Failure to catch the gang was a major impetus behind reform of the Belgian police.
There have been many theories about the case and those involved. One says the perpetrators may have been a particularly psychopathic group of criminals without any ulterior motive. A second theory asserts a politically-extreme paramilitary group conducted undercover surveillance on security at some of the targeted supermarkets.
Overview of Crimes Attributed To The Gang
March 13: Theft of a 10-gauge fowling shotgun at a store in Dinant, Belgium. Two men were seen running away.May 10: Theft of an Austin Allegro; theft of a Volkswagen Santana from a car showroomAugust 14: Armed robbery of a grocery store in Maubeuge, France. Food and wine were stolen; while the goods were being loaded into a vehicle, two French police officers came on the scene. Both were shot and seriously wounded.September 30: Armed robbery of a weapons dealer in Wavre, Belgium. Fifteen firearms were stolen, including sub-machine guns. A policeman was killed at the scene; two others were shot and seriously wounded later.December 23: Armed robbery of a restaurant in Beersel, Belgium. Coffee and wine were stolen. The caretaker was tortured and killed.
January 9: Cab robbery in Brussels; the car was found in Mons, Belgium. The taxi driver was tortured and killed.February 11: Armed robbery of a supermarket in Rixensart, Belgium. Less than $18,000 was stolen. Several people were wounded; no one was killed.February 22. An Audi 100 with multiple bullet holes (from the February 11th incident) was stolen from a commercial garage where it was being repaired.February 25: Armed robbery of a supermarket in Uccle, Belgium. Less than $16,000 was stolen. No one was killed.March 3: Armed robbery of a supermarket in Halle, Belgium. Less than $18,000 was stolen. One supermarket-staff member was killed.May 7: Armed robbery of a supermarket in Houdeng-Gougnies, Belgium. Less than $22,000 was stolen. No one was killed.September 10: Armed robbery of a textile factory in Temse, Belgium. Seven bullet-proof jackets were stolen. One worker was killed and his wife severely wounded.September 17: Robbery of a grocery store in Nivelles, Belgium. Twenty kilos of tea and coffee — plus 10 liters of cooking oil — were taken and loaded into a vehicle. Two gendarmes responded to the store's alarm; one was shot and killed, the other seriously wounded. A couple at a nearby 24-hour self-service gas station was also killed. The gang escaped in a Saab turbo and the couple's Mercedes.October 2: Armed robbery of a restaurant in Ohain, Belgium. Nothing was stolen. The owner was killed.October 7: Armed robbery of a supermarket in Beersel, Belgium. Less than $35,000 was stolen. One customer was killed.December 1: Armed robbery of a jeweler in Anderlues, Belgium. Some low-value jewels were stolen. Two people were killed.
September 27: Armed robbery at the Delhaize supermarket on rue de la Graignette in Braine-l'Alleud. Less than $6,000 was stolen. Three people were killed and two wounded. Between 15-25 minutes later: Armed robbery of the Delhaize supermarket on Brusselsesteenweg in Overijse was raided. Less than $25,000 was stolen. Five people were killed and one wounded.
As a result of these robberies, security was increased at many stores in the region — including armed guards.
November 9, around 7:30 p.m.: Armed robbery at the Delhaize supermarket on the Parklaan in Aalst. This market was outside the area the gang usually operated in. Less than $25,000 was taken; eight people were killed.
During the November 9th incident, gang members (wearing bizarre face paint and disguises) roared at and taunted customers. They shot anyone who looked at them, including children. Witnesses said the shootings were done mainly by the "Killer;" the person justified it as killing witnesses. It appeared, however, that the shootings were gratuitous executions. The robbers did not leave the scene right away after returning to their parked getaway vehicle.
Patrol vehicles from Belgium's then-two police forces arrived before the gang left the Parklaan Delhaize. Most vehicles went to a secondary exit of the parking lot about 100 yards away. The getaway began with the "Giant" walking alongside the getaway car, exchanging shots with a policeman. Police fired more shots as the getaway car sped away. A police van pursued the gang for half a kilometer before stopping the pursuit, losing track of them.
The last sighting of any gang member was November 9th. The person was spotted on a forest road, on the ground, apparently seriously injured.
Decades later, forensic examination at the forest-road site found evidence of a weapon being fired there. Investigators concluded one of the gang — possibly the "Giant" — was executed by his accomplices and buried nearby. The getaway car was later found burned.
Method Of Operation
Some evidence police found indicated the gang were professional criminals involved in drugs and burglaries. On the other hand, odd elements were also evident:
Robbery proceeds were modest relative to the extreme risks; the killings escalated dramatically in 1985. Bystanders were shot dead in the parking lot before the gang entered the supermarkets; other victims, including children, were shot from as close as a foot away while cowering on floors;Firearms were a particular interest; the 12-gauge pump shotguns used were loaded with a rare, heavy buckshot;Cars used, often Volkswagens, were stripped of distinctive trim; vehicle modifications indicated a mechanic's expertise;The getawaydriver was highly skilled; escape routes were fast and non-obvious, often to forested areas where the cars were burned.
The gang is believed to have had at least one outside helper on its last raid. The weapons the gang used — as well as others taken from victims — were never found.
Police are still working on the case. In recent years, arrests for questioning and rewards for gang members who might provide accomplice information have been directed at decades-old suspects. However, barring an extension to the statute of limitations, the gang members cannot be punished for the crimes. The limit ran out November 10, 2015."