Message from Stefan Sleijfer

‘Erasmus MC will never be the same again’

Erasmus MC is deeply shaken by the events of September 28. We have lost a beloved teacher in an act that is incomprehensible. Jurgen Damen is a well-known figure in the education community of Rotterdam. Our hearts go out to Jurgen’s family.

Reading time 2 min
De dag na het incident (1)

Yesterday afternoon, one of our medical students murdered his neighbour and her child. He then entered one of our educational buildings and shot Jurgen Damen. The perpetrator proceeded further into Erasmus MC and set fire to our Education Center. Subsequently, he was apprehended beneath our helipad by an arrest team.

Our initial priority is providing support to our teachers and students who were direct witnesses to this tragedy. We are ensuring that they receive the necessary assistance. Our attention also extends to all employees, visitors, and patients who were deeply affected by the events that followed the shooting. We are a large organization, and many people witnessed the arrest teams entering our hospital.

We cannot share any information about the suspect. The case is under investigation by the police, and we must not and will not disrupt this investigation. We do not know the perpetrator’s motive, and the relationship with Jurgen is unclear. However, we did receive indications that the perpetrator may have had a grievance against the examination committee. One of the members at risk was safely taken into police custody.

In May of this year, we received a notification from the Public Prosecution Service stating that our student had been convicted of animal cruelty. The Public Prosecution Service questioned whether this student was fit to become a doctor. Our examination committee engaged in a conversation with the student. The student had accumulated all the necessary study credits to receive a diploma. The examination committee set a condition for the diploma, requiring the student to undergo a psychological evaluation, and for the psychologist to confirm the student’s suitability to become a doctor.

The student did not object to this condition. However, it was not met. There was no confirmation from a psychologist, and at this time, it is unknown if there was any contact with a psychologist. Further investigation is ongoing.

Apart from the letter, we did not receive any other signals that the perpetrator was dangerous or should be denied access to Erasmus MC.

Today, we have started the process of getting back on track as much as possible. It is a challenging task. At present, education at Erasmus MC is completely halted, and we are working on resuming it next week. Cleaning is in progress in and around our Education Center.

Many patients experienced significant discomfort yesterday. Day treatments were, for instance, halted. Fortunately, no one suffered lasting harm. The images circulating on social media of employees in work attire running into the streets are inaccurate. It was the resuscitation team on their way to the building where the teacher was shot.

We are doing our utmost to be able to assist all our patients in the way they are accustomed to. Nevertheless, Erasmus MC will never be the same again.

Stefan Sleijfer, Chairman of the Board of Directors

Also read