A national day of mourning is being held in the Czech Republic for the victims of a mass shooting at Prague’s university last Thursday. Authorities are actively investigating the reasons behind this violent act.
Official buildings throughout the country are displaying flags at half-mast, and a minute’s silence will be held at noon.
The tragic incident occurred at Charles University’s Faculty of Arts in Prague, where a student fatally shot fourteen people before taking his own life.
The attack is one of the deadliest mass shootings by an individual in Europe this century.
Lenka Hlavkova, head of the university’s Institute of Musicology, was among those who lost their lives in the attack. Other victims included Jan Dlask, a translator and expert in Finnish literature, and student Lucie Spindlerova.
The shooting occurred around 3:00 PM local time (2:00 PM GMT) at the Faculty of Arts, located near Jan Palach Square in the heart of Prague.
The assailant fired shots in the building’s hallways and classrooms, ultimately taking his own life as security personnel approached, according to police reports.
Hannah Mallicoat, an American visitor, recounted her experience in Jan Palach Square during the incident to the media.
“A crowd of people were crossing the street when the first shot hit. I thought it was something like a firecracker or a car backfire until I heard the second shot and people started running,” she said.
“I saw a bullet hit the ground on the other side of the square about 30ft [9m] away before ducking into a store. The whole area was blocked off and dozens of police cars and ambulances were headed towards the university.”
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala expressed the nation’s shock and grief over this “horrendous act” in a statement.
“It is hard to find the words to express our condemnation, and the pain and sorrow our society is feeling, especially in these days before Christmas.”
The gunman is suspected of murdering his father at a separate location and is believed to be connected to the deaths of a young man and his infant daughter, who were found in a forest near Prague on December 15.
Charles University, established in 1347, is the Czech Republic’s oldest and largest university and stands as one of Europe’s most venerable academic institutions.