You can now listen to Antigua News articles!
by Mick the Ram
The Czech city of Prague is still in shock today, 24 hours after the country suffered its worst-ever mass shooting, when a 24-year-old student marched into a university in the centre of the capital and opened fire, killing 14 and wounding a further 25, with 10 of those seriously injured.
The incident happened in the middle of the afternoon at the Faculty of Arts building of Charles University, off Jan Palach Square.
The gunman opened fire in the corridors and classrooms of the building, apparently killing at random, while staff and students used furniture to barricade themselves into rooms, with others jumping from ledges to escape the terrifying situation.
The killer is understood to have turned the gun on himself, with police saying that he had been “eliminated”.
Initially the authorities had asked for the shooter not to be named, assuming that he sought some notoriety, but later local media named him as David Kozak.
He had no previous criminal record, but a “huge arsenal of weapons and ammunition” was found. He is believed to have killed his father at a separate location earlier in the day.
Founded in 1347, Charles University is the oldest and largest university in the Czech Republic and one of the oldest such institutions in Europe.
It has been announced that Saturday 23 December will be a day of mourning, with flags flying at half-mast on all public buildings and a minute’s silence will be observed at midday.
Prior to the murderous attack the police received notification that the suspect was thought to be heading into the city centre, with the intention of causing harm and killing himself.
The history student had been expected to attend a lecture and officers evacuated that building, but he turned up at a different location several hundred yards away and began his shooting spree at around 3pm local time.
Footage shows the terrifying event unfolding
Inside the university students and teachers used chairs and desks to barricade the doors to the classrooms, as he tried to enter room by room.
In dramatic footage which has been shared on social media, gunshots can be heard amid screams and separate video coverage sees terrified crowds fleeing across the city’s historic Charles Bridge.
Crazed killer turns on himself
More film at the scene highlights the crazed gunman on the roof of the Arts Faculty firing shots repeatedly into the street below. Other images have shown students clinging to the outside of the university wall, perched on a high ledge with the killer prowling above.
With security forces closing in on him he eventually turned his gun on himself.
It later emerged that he was also now being linked to the death of a young man and his two-month-old daughter, who were found dead in a forest on the outskirts of Prague 5 days earlier.
The body of the 14th victim of the worst mass shooting in Czech history was only removed this morning (22 December).
Although all the victims of the attack have been identified, none have yet been publicly named by police. According to the interior ministry, among those injured are three foreigners – one Dutch person and two from the United Arab Emirates.
Student Jakob Weizman described seeing blood everywhere after being evacuated from the building. He had locked himself in a classroom and feared for his life when the gunman tried to enter.
US tourist Hannah Mallicoat said that she was on the square when the attack started. “I thought it was something like a firecracker or a car backfiring until I heard the second shot and people started running, and I saw a bullet hit the ground on the other side of the square about 30ft away.”
Eighteen-year-old UK tourist Joe Hyland, who was on crutches to support an injured knee, described hearing four gunshots and then trying to get away as quickly as his injury would let him. “Everyone was sprinting and running for cover. We got to the metro and went down there because we thought it would be safest.”
Statement from PM
In a statement, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said the country had been shocked by this “horrendous act”. He added: “It is hard to find the words to express condemnation on the one hand and, on the other, the pain and sorrow that our entire society is feeling in these days before Christmas.”
A shrine has been growing in memory of the those who lost their lives at another university on the other side of the city. Small candles have been left with messages of sorrow on the cobblestones in red glass holders, along with floral tributes.