sábado, junio 15

Shooting at Czech university: at least 15 people killed in Prague carnage

Fourteen people were killed and more than 20 others injured Thursday in a shooting at Charles University in the Czech Republic, authorities said. The shooter, a 24-year-old student of world history at university, also committed suicide after the shooting in central Prague.

Police believe he first killed his father in the family home in a nearby village, Ondrej Moravcik, a Czech police spokesman, said in an interview. Some of the injured are in critical condition, he added.

The shooter was partly identified by police as David K. European police officials often only give his first and last name for privacy reasons. Speaking at a news conference in Prague, national police chief Martin Vondrasek said the attacker «was inspired by a similar terrible event abroad.» He did not specify where.

But authorities said they did not believe the shooter’s actions were linked to international or domestic terrorism.

Radek Simik, an associate professor of linguistics at Charles University, said he was in the middle of his class on the first floor when he and his five students heard screaming coming from the hallway.

“We thought it was a drunk guy or a rioter or something,” he said. As the sound grew louder, he realized it was the authorities saying, “Police!” Get out!” Then, a few minutes later, the shooting started and he and his students rushed out of the building.

“The shooting continued while we were outside the building,” he said. He and his students watched as police evacuated the injured and others who appeared dead, he said.

Authorities were investigating whether violent and profanity-laden messages in Russian posted on Telegram under the name David Kozak were linked to the shooter, the police chief added. One post said two mass shootings in Russia had been inspirational – the first this month at a school in Bryansk, near the border with Ukraine, and the second in 2021 in Kazan, the region’s capital Russian from Tatarstan.

«I was very inspired by Alina… a lot,» said a message posted on December 10, three days after a 14-year-old Russian girl, Alina Afanaskina, opened fire on her classmates, killing two of them, with a pump. hunting rifle in Bryansk. But the message continues: “She certainly didn’t kill enough. I will try to resolve this issue.

Another message from the same day said: “I always wanted to kill. I thought I would be a maniac in the future.

A Telegram message posted a day earlier under the name David Kozak said: “This will be my diary as I head into the school shooting. » This post was edited Thursday, but it’s unclear exactly how.

The channel went “private” Thursday evening after the shooting. By then, David K. was already dead.

If the shooter and the author of the Telegram were the same person, it was not immediately clear how a native-born Czech who grew up in a small village in central Bohemia would have acquired mastery of the Russian language, including fashionable slang used by young Russians. online and a rich vocabulary of swear words.

Prague region governor Bohuslav Svoboda said the gunman fell from the roof of the university’s arts faculty after opening fire on Jan Palach Square, an area of ​​well-kept lawns adjacent to the river Vltava which crosses the Czech capital.

Police said the arts building, located in Prague’s Old Town, had been evacuated. The place next to it has been sealed off. Videos posted on social media showed people running away.

Mr. Moravcik, a Czech police spokesman, said of the suspect: “He had a lot of weapons, special army weapons, but all these weapons were legal. »

The Minister of the Interior, Vit Rakusan, said on social media that a large number of weapons and ammunition had been discovered in the faculty building. He added that police believed it was likely that the attacker was also responsible for a previous double homicide in Prague, given his residence. No further details have been released.

Thursday’s episode could have been much deadlier if police hadn’t already been there when the shooting began. Officers had information suggesting an attack on the school was imminent and evacuated one of its buildings, Mr. Moravcik said. Police then obtained information that an attacker was in another building and moved there to begin evacuating people. Shortly after, the shooting started, he said. No further information has been released.

Mass shootings are rare in the central European country. The shooting prompted Prime Minister Petr Fiala to cut short his trip to the eastern Czech Republic town of Olomouc and rush back to Prague for an emergency government meeting on Thursday evening.

It was the worst mass shooting in Europe since back-to-back massacres in Serbia in May, which killed 17 people and injured more than 20. Those shootings in Serbia sparked months of street protests against the president Aleksandar Vucic. And the debate over how to prevent future violence was a major issue during last Sunday’s snap general election.

The President of the Czech Republic Petr Pavel said in a message on X that he was «shocked by the events that occurred at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University.» The university, the Associated Press reported, planned to immediately increase security.

Although generally very peaceful, the Czech capital was already on alert before the killings, after a father and his little daughter were found dead from gunshot wounds last week in the Klanovice forest, a neighborhood rich east of Prague.

“I express my deepest condolences to the families of the victims and to the Czech people as a whole,” Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said in a message on X on Thursday. “We stand and cry with you. »

In 2019, a gunman killed six people in the waiting room of a hospital in the eastern Czech Republic city of Ostrava. It was the deadliest shooting since 2015, when a gunman killed eight people in a restaurant in Uhersky Brod, about 300 km southeast of Prague.

The square where the shooting took place is named after Jan Palach, a 20-year-old student who set himself on fire in 1969 to protest the invasion of what was then Czechoslovakia by Union troops Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies. He died three days later, becoming a martyr to the anti-communist cause.

At the time of his death, he was studying history at Charles University, founded in 1348 and one of the oldest universities in the world.

Barbara Petrova And Amanda E. Newman reports contributed.