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Prague University Mass Shooting: Gunman was a Student of the Same University

Prague University Mass Shooting: Gunman was a Student of the Same University

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Dec 22: Even a day after the Czech Republic’s “worst mass shooting” in its history on Thursday, the police did not have the potential motive behind the shoot-out at the Charles University in Prague by a student of the same university that left 14 dead and at least 25 others wounded, several of them still fighting for their lives.

According to Czech police, the incident occurred in the philosophy department of the varsity. Authorities are investigating what’s been described as the worst mass shooting in the history of the Czech Republic. The death toll may rise, they said.

The police said the shooter, David Kozak, was a twenty-four-year-old history student. He lived in a village almost 20 km outside Prague and was getting his Masters’ Degree in Polish History at Charles University. He was an “excellent student”, Prague Police Chief Martin Vondrasek said.

He legally owned several guns and was heavily armed during the incident. The Police Chief said what he did was a “well thought out and horrible act.” He is suspected to have also killed his father in the nearby town, Houston, before going on a killing spree in Prague. He did not have an accomplice, according to the police.

Police found Kozak’s body inside the university but it was unclear if he killed himself or was shot by officers. David Kozak talked about planning a school shooting on the messaging app Telegram, treating his channel there like a “diary” of his life “before the shooting.” “I want to do school shooting and possibly suicide,” he wrote in a post, as per the Telegraph, adding, “I always wanted to kill. I thought I would become a maniac in the future.”

He is also suspected of shooting and killing a father and a newborn baby just one week before carrying out his murderous rampage. Police provided no information about the victims or a potential motive for the shooting. Czech Interior Minister Vit Rakusan stated that investigators do not suspect any connection to extremist ideologies or groups.

Charles University authorities have announced that they will increase security measures in university buildings immediately. They said in a statement, “We express our deepest condolences to all the bereaved families who lost their loved ones. Our thoughts are now with the loved ones of those who are now fighting for their lives.”

Tearful mourners at the University left a sea of candles to grieve for the dead. The gunfire at the Faculty of Arts sparked frantic scenes of students running from the attack. A makeshift memorial of hundreds of candles flickered outside the university on Friday as police pursued the investigation at the campus in Prague’s historic centre.

“Thirteen out of the 14 victims of this insane massacre have been identified,” Rakusan said. He added three of the wounded were foreigners. The Dutch foreign ministry said earlier one of them was a Dutch national. All the victims were killed inside the building, and at least some were the gunman’s fellow students.

Rakusan had said earlier that there was no link between the shooting and “international terrorism” and that the student acted on his own. Although police said there was no longer any imminent threat, they were still guarding selected sites including schools on Friday as a preventive measure and “a signal we are here.”

The government has declared a national day of mourning on Saturday, with flags on official buildings to be flown at half-staff and people asked to observe a minute’s silence at noon. The gunman, previously unknown to the police, had a “huge arsenal of weapons and ammunition”, Police Chief said.

Vondrasek said police believed the same gunman had also killed a young man and his two-month-old daughter in a pram during a walk in a forest on the eastern outskirts of Prague on December 15. The investigation into those murders, which had shocked Prague, had stalled until evidence found in Hostoun linked the gunman with the crime.

“There is no justification for this horrendous act,” Prime Minister Petr Fiala said. US President Joe Biden sent his condolences, slamming the “senseless” shooting. “My heart is with those who lost their lives in today’s senseless shooting in Prague, those injured, and the Czech people,” he wrote on X.

“Our authorities are in touch with Czech law enforcement, and we stand ready to offer additional support if needed.” French President Emmanuel Macron, EU chief Ursula von der Leyen and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky were among those also offering condolences.

Though mass gun violence is unusual in the Czech Republic, the nation has been rocked by some instances in recent years. A 63-year-old man shot seven men and a woman dead in 2015 before killing himself in a restaurant in the south-eastern town of Uhersky Brod. In 2019, a man killed six people in the waiting room of a hospital in the eastern city of Ostrava, with another woman dying days later. The man shot himself dead about three hours after the attack.

 

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