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Prague gunman who killed 14 from rooftop 'inspired by mass shootings', as police connect him with two more murders
21 December 2023, 20:27 | Updated: 21 December 2023, 23:19
A Prague gunman who killed at least 14 people from the roof of a university in the Czech capital has been connected with two more murders in the country by police.
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The gunman, named by local media as David Kozák, is believed to have turned the gun on himself after firing indiscriminately at dozens of students at Charles University's Faculty of Arts - where he was a student.
At least 14 people were killed in the shooting, with up to 30 more injured.
Wielding a "long firearm", Kozák opened fire on crowds from a rooftop over Jan Palach Square in the city's Old Town.
The shooter was from a village around 21km outside of Prague, where his father was found dead earlier today.
Speaking at a news conference this evening, police have connected Kozák 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.
Kozák had a fascination with mass shootings and appears to have been inspired by others ones that have taken place across the world, police have theorised.
He allegedly kept a diary in Russian on the Telegram app.
In post, he allegedly wrote: "I want to do a school shooting and possibly suicide."
Amid the chaos and devastation, 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.
"The entire building is currently being evacuated and there are several dead and dozens of injured at the scene," police said at around 15.40 local time on X. "We urge citizens not to stay in the immediate vicinity and not to leave their houses."
#Tschechien b— MB (@MB31357662) December 21, 2023
Tote nach Schüssen an #Uni in #Prag!
An einer Hochschule in der Innenstadt soll es Tote und Verletzte geben. Nach ersten Informationen soll es zu dem Vorfall an der Philosophischen Fakultät der Karls-Universität am Jan-Palach-Platz gekommen sein pic.twitter.com/CsNBSWimO2
Czech media reported the gunman was dead following the shooting - as locals reported he had fallen from the rooftop. Local media said he first turned the gun on himself.
“The shooter has been eliminated!," police confirmed minutes later, following harrowing scenes of tourists and residents fleeing the scene while gunshots rang out.
Images on social media appeared to show the gunman dressed in black with a rifle aimed at crowds below. Witnesses described the male shooter as picking his victims off one by one.
One terrified student posted online that the gunman tried to open the door to their classroom but they had locked it moments earlier.
Jakob Weizman wrote: “Currently stuck inside my classroom in Prague. Shooter is dead, but we are waiting to be evacuated. Praying to make it out alive.
“Locked the door before the shooter tried to open it. F***ing hell.”
Currently stuck inside my classroom in Prague. Shooter is dead, but we are waiting to be evacuated. Praying to make it out alive.— Jakob Weizman (@jakobweizman) December 21, 2023
Locked the door before the shooter tried to open it. Fucking hell. pic.twitter.com/wYyhOe5U6p
Student Deda Mrazek posted online: “I am OK. I was in the library at the time of the shooting.” She shared an image of students hiding in the back of a computer lab.
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.
"I urge citizens not to go to the place to look. I want to reassure the public, the shooter has been eliminated, another attacker has not been confirmed," the country's interior minister, Vít Rakušan, told news outlet ČT.
Jsem ok. V moment střelby jsem byl v knihovně. Poslali nás dozadu do počítačové učebny, kde nejsou okna. Nyní se tu rozneslo, že je střelec mrtvý. Všichni voláme a odpovídáme rodině a kamarádům, že jsme ok. #ffuk #filda #namestijanapalacha pic.twitter.com/htHtGNyHnA— Děda Mrázek (@BartMrazek) December 21, 2023
Mr Rakušan said he would "not comment on the shooter's motivation at the moment".
"We are still mapping the situation," the minister said. "I appreciate the professional intervention of all components. The police were on the scene within minutes. We will call a press briefing with the chief of police and then with the prime minister."
There had been reports of a second shooter at the scene, but Mr Rakušan initially confirmed this was not the case and there was no further immediate danger. He stressed people should still cooperate with policing instructions amid the aftermath.
However Czech reports suggest dozens of armed officers swept on a house in Kladensko, northwest of Prague, which has been linked to the faculty shooting.
Officers have not given more details on that operation.
Mr Rakušan later said: "At the moment, there is no way to confirm the connection with the investigated case in Klánovice."