An ExxonMobil executive was shot dead in the Belgian capital of Brussels almost two weeks ago, in an incident that appeared to be an attempted carjacking or robbery, but remains under investigation and has raised international suspicion that there might be a lot more to the story than is known.
British national Nicholas Mockford, 60, had just left a restaurant with his wife. The two were approaching their vehicle when they were confronted by two people in motorcycle helmets. One of the attackers tried to take Mrs. Mockford’s purse and the other shot Mr. Mockford four times, and then both escaped on foot, according to eyewitness statements, the BBC reported.
Mockford was hit in the chest and could not be resuscitated by paramedics when they arrived. He died at the scene.
While calling for help, Mrs. Mockford had mentioned a white van that had driven by shortly after her husband was shot, but it is not clear whether the driver had any involvement in the attack.
Belgian police initially remained silent about the case, as is customary during an ongoing investigation, resulting in delayed international coverage of the story. Authorities released some minor details Thursday in an attempt to get more information from the public; the attackers remain at large.
The attempted purse-snatching by men in helmets who did not snatch the purse they were apparently after, but shot four times with the obvious intention to kill, is baffling the police.
But Mockford was a marketing department manager for ExxonMobil’s Chemicals division in Brussels and did not have a particularly high profile within the company, casting doubt on suspicions that it may have been a professional hit.
An ExxonMobil spokesman said there was “no indication” that the attack was work-related, the BBC reported.
"We are shocked by the tragic death of one of our employees on Sunday, Oct. 14 in Brussels,” an ExxonMobil spokesman said, according to the Daily Telegraph.
"Our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues and we are supporting them as best we can at this very difficult time."