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World News

Prague shooting: Day of mourning declared after 14 killed – as suspect linked to separate murders | World News

today22/12/2023

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The Czech Republic will hold a day of mourning after 14 people were killed and 25 injured in a mass shooting – as police investigate the suspect’s links to other murders.

Police say the gunman opened fire on Thursday in the philosophy department at Charles University in Prague – where he was a student – in the worst shooting the country has ever seen.

Based on a search of his home, the gunman – named in Czech media as 24-year-old David Kozak – is also suspected in the killing of another man and his two-month-old daughter last Friday.

Prague’s police chief, Martin Vondrasek, added the force believes the suspect killed his father earlier on Thursday in his hometown of Hostoun and that he had also been planning to kill himself.

President Petr Pavel expressed his “great sadness” in a statement, along with “helpless anger at the unnecessary loss of so many young lives”.

“I would like to express my sincere condolences to all relatives of the victims, to all who were at this tragic incident,” he added.

A police car drives past ambulances parked near the area of the shooting at one of the buildings of Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, December 21, 2023. REUTERS/David W Cerny
Image:
A police car drives past ambulances parked near the area of the shooting


The Czech government declared Saturday will be a national day of mourning to honour the victims, Prime Minister Petr Fiala said.

Previously, the nation’s worst mass shooting was in 2015, when a gunman opened fire in the town of Uhersky Brod, killing eight before ending his own life.

After Thursday’s shooting police added they had “unconfirmed information from an account on a social network that he [Kozak] was supposedly inspired by one terrorist attack in Russia in the autumn of this year”, Mr Vondrasek said.

“It was a pre-mediated horrific act that started in the Kladno region and unfortunately ended here,” he said, adding the gunman was a legal holder of several firearms.

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People hiding on ledge during shooting

Police said he was a high-achieving student with no prior criminal record and that he acted alone.

Officers asked not to reveal the man’s identity, but his name reported by some Czech media matched a police search report.

Interior Minister Vit Rakusan said the shooting had no connection to international terrorism.

‘Don’t go anywhere’

The attack took place in the area of Jan Palach Square, in the city’s Old Town district, which is a few minutes walk from the Old Town Square, a major tourist attraction where thousands have visited a Christmas market.

A map showing Jan Palach Square, where the shooting took place
Image:
A map showing Jan Palach Square, where the shooting took place

Staff at the faculty of arts of Charles University were sent an emergency email during the shooting in which staff were urged to “stay put”, according to Reuters.

“Don’t go anywhere, if you’re in the offices, lock them and place furniture in front of the door, turn off the lights,” the email said.

Read more:
What do we know so far about mass shooting?
Footage shows people hiding on ledge during manhunt

Klara, a student at the university, told local media that she was among those who police evacuated from the building.

“It was terribly scary,” she told iDnes.cz.

“There were a lot of policemen everywhere, who were shouting at us with submachine guns, telling us to run outside.”

Britons caught up in chaos told to ‘stay down’

Tom Leese, 34, a video producer, and his wife Rachael, 31, an account director, from Merstham in Surrey, who told of the moment a police officer ordered them to stay down during a mass shooting in central Prague
Image:
Tom Leese and his wife Rachael

A British couple, who were visiting Prague as part of their honeymoon, were also caught up in the confusion and were ordered to stay down by police during the shooting.

Tom Leese, 34, a video producer and his wife Rachael, 31, an account director, from Surrey, said they were having a drink in the Slivovitz Museum, close to where the shooting took place, when a policeman burst in.

“He started shouting loudly in what I assume was Czech,” Mr Leese said.

“I asked for it in English, and he said there was an active shooter and to stay inside and stay down.

“The staff were very calm, turned all the lights off very quickly and urged us to stay calm.”



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