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Police say mass shooting suspect in Prague died by suicide

By Yonhap

Published : Dec. 23, 2023 - 10:47

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People mourn at a makeshift memorial for the victims outside the Charles University in central Prague, on December 22, 2023, as police investigators kept working on the campus the day after a deadly mass shooting. (Michal Cizek / AFP) People mourn at a makeshift memorial for the victims outside the Charles University in central Prague, on December 22, 2023, as police investigators kept working on the campus the day after a deadly mass shooting. (Michal Cizek / AFP)

The deadly violence erupted on Thursday afternoon in the philosophy department building of the Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Czech Republic’s capital city. Police said the gunman, identified only as a 24-year-old student in the philosophy program, opened fire on classmates and faculty before he died by suicide on the balcony of the building.

Vondrášek described the shooter as an excellent student with no criminal record. He said authorities are also investigating whether the suspect, who had a license to own eight guns, was involved in the killing of a man and his 2-month-old daughter in Prague on Dec. 15.

Just hours before the massacre, a friend of the gunman reached out to authorities, telling them the shooter had been having suicidal thoughts and that she was unable to get in touch with him, according to a timeline of events provided by police.

When they responded to the shooter’s home in Hostouň, just west of Prague, officers found the body of his dead father as well as an arsenal of weapons and explosives, the Guardian reported.

Shortly after 1 p.m., police launched a national search for the suspect. They determined he was due to attend a lecture at the university at 2:15 p.m., prompting hordes of law enforcement to race to the scene.

Police said they were already evacuating the campus when the first gunshots rang out around 3 p.m.

Authorities do not believe anyone else was involved in what they called "a premeditated violent attack," seemingly inspired by similar shootings abroad.

A motive for the massacre remained under investigation on Friday, but Minister Vit Rakusan said police have not uncovered links to any extremist ideology or groups. He added that police worked overnight to identify the dead.

While authorities have not yet released any names, the Institute of Music Sciences announced that its head, Lenka Hlávková, was among the dead.

Previously, the nation’s worst mass shooting was in 2015, when a gunman opened fire in the southeastern town of Uhersky Brod, killing eight before fatally shooting himself. The most recent massacre has left the Czech Republic reeling, with Prime Minister Petr Fiala requesting sensitivity on behalf of all those affected by the violence.

“The brutal attack affected our entire society. We are going through a painful and sad time. Our thoughts are with those who were directly affected by yesterday’s tragedy,” he said in a statement on Friday. “Please stick together in these difficult times.” (DPA)