Natasha Devon 7pm - 9pm
Czech Republic announces day of mourning as gunman who killed 14 in mass shooting is linked to two more murders
22 December 2023, 07:01 | Updated: 22 December 2023, 08:52
The Czech Republic has declared it will hold a day of mourning for those who were killed in one of Europe’s worst mass shootings in recent history.
Listen to this article
Police said at least 14 people were killed and 25 were injured in the shooting on Thursday.
Wielding a "long firearm", gunman David Kozák opened fire on crowds from a rooftop over Jan Palach Square in the city's Old Town.
The gunman, 24, opened fire at around 3pm local time at the Faculty of Arts building of Charles University in the centre of the Czech capital.
The shooter, who was a student at the university, was from a village around 21km outside of Prague, where his father was found dead earlier on Thursday.
Prime Minister Petr Fiala said in a statement on Thursday: “We are all shocked by this horrendous act.
"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."
He confirmed that Saturday would be a day of morning with flags flown half-mast on all public buildings and that there would be a minute’s silence at midday.
President Petr Pavel spoke of his “great sadness” and “helpless anger at the unnecessary loss of so many young lives” following the incident.
Speaking at a news conference on Thursday evening, police connected the suspect to two more killings that occurred near Prague last week.
Police had been investigating after a father and his newborn baby were killed near the Czech capital.
Prague Police Chief Martin Vondrasek also said police believe the gunman killed his father earlier on Thursday in his hometown of Hostoun, just west of Prague, and that he had also been planning to kill himself.
The gunman reportedly had a fascination with mass shootings and appears to have been inspired by other ones that have taken place across the world, police have theorised.
He allegedly kept a diary in Russian on the Telegram app.
In a post, he allegedly wrote: "I want to do a school shooting and possibly suicide."
Amid the chaos and devastation on Thursday, people from inside the building where the gunman was firing were pictured scrambling out of a window onto a ledge on the side of the building to find safety.
Others at the scene posted images to social media of them cowering inside the building to find refuge, forming barricades at classroom doors.
An email sent to staff and students told people to ‘stay put’.“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.
Within minutes of the shooting, armed police swept into the university building where the gunman was "eliminated".
Prague's mayor Bohuslav Svoboda, the gunman fell from the building and died.
It has not yet been confirmed if he was killed by police or turned the weapon on himself, but he suffered “devastating injuries”.
Police gave no details about the victims or a possible motive for the shooting but Interior Minister Vit Rakusan said investigators do not suspect a link to any extremist ideology or groups.