A gunman in the Czech capital, Prague, opened fire at a university on December 21 and killed 14 people before turning the gun on himself. The incident happened at the Charles University near Jan Palach Square, an area popular with tourists. More than a dozen further people were injured during the shooting that began in the Arts Department of the school at around 3 pm and continued for about an hour before the shooter committed suicide.
A motive for the killings has not been established, and it is believed that 24-year-old David Kozak murdered his father, as well as an unnamed man and his 2-year-old daughter, days earlier. Video footage from the scene showed students attempting to escape through windows and climbing onto ledges.
The university released a statement expressing condolences for the victims’ families and said, “We mourn the loss of life of members of our university community.”
The first victim was named on December 22 as Lenka Hlavkova, head of the Institute of Musicology at the university’s Faculty of Arts. Three foreign nationals, one from the Netherlands and two from the United Arab Emirates, also died in the incident but have not yet been named.
Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakušan praised the police and said more would have died if not for their quick action. It “could have been much worse,” he said, noting that Kozak had several weapons and “was really ready to kill a lot of people.” Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala attended the scene and laid flowers at a makeshift memorial that students had constructed.
The shooting is the deadliest of its kind in the history of the Czech Republic, one of the few European countries where private gun ownership is permitted. The “right to acquire, keep, and bear firearms” is stated in law, and the country’s Constitution explicitly provides the “right to defend one’s own life or life of another person also with arms.” Kozak was the legal owner of several weapons.