Shock And Horror Greet Prague After ‘Gruesome’ Shooting Attack Leaves 14 Dead


The people of Prague were in a state of shock and mourning on Friday, the day after a gunman opened fire at Charles University, killing 14 people and injuring 25 more. It was the worst peacetime attack in the history of the Czech Republic, and the first school or college shooting in the country. The city, which had been a winter wonderland just 24 hours before, was now somber and empty. People had come to pay their respects at the makeshift memorial of candles and flowers set up at the university’s historical headquarters overnight, despite the heavy snow and rain.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala called the shooting “a senseless attack” and said “this Christmas will be unimaginably sad”. Czech President Petr Pavel said he felt “deep sadness and also helpless anger over the loss of so many young lives”. Pope Francis also expressed his “deep sadness”, and said he was praying for the victims and their families.

In a press conference on Friday, Prague police chief Petr Matějček confirmed that the gunman – a 24-year-old student at the university – had died by suicide. Police have not yet named him. Czech Police Chief Martin Vondrášek said that he had “never seen anything as horrifying” as the shooting, and praised the prompt response of police and other emergency services, which he said likely saved many lives. The country’s Interior Minister, Vít Rakušan, made an emotional plea with Czech citizens to seek mental health help and not spread false information in the wake of the shooting. He also asked the media and the public not to share information about the gunman and details of the shooting, in order to prevent copycat attacks. Police have increased security measures across the country in response to the incident.

The tragedy took place at the Faculty of Arts building of Charles University, which was one of the original colleges set up when the university was founded in 1348. Subjects such as history, philosophy, art theory and languages are taught there. As of midday on Friday, all 14 victims had been identified, including the director of the Department of Musicology, Lenka Hlávková.

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