At least 15 people were killed during a shooting rampage in the Czech Republic, on Thursday, including 14 people at Charles University in Prague and the suspect’s father, the authorities said. Twenty-four other people were wounded at the university.
The gunman, a 24-year-old student in world history at Charles University, also died. He first killed his father in their family home in the town of Kladno, outside of Prague, said Radek Jiroudek, a police officer with Interpol Prague, in an interview.
He killed himself after the shooting spree in central Prague.
The police identified the assailant as David K. Speaking at a news conference in Prague. The chief of the national police force, Martin Vondraska, said the assailant “got inspired by a similar terrible event abroad.” He did not specify where.
A native of a small village near the town of Kladno west of Prague, he had a gun license.
The governor of the Prague region, Bohuslav Svoboda, said the shooter fell from the roof of the university’s faculty of arts building after opening fire on Jan Palach Square, an area of manicured lawns adjacent to the Vltava River that cuts through the Czech capital.
The police said the faculty of arts building, located in Prague’s Old Town, had been evacuated. The square next to it was sealed off. Videos posted on social media showed people running away.
Mass shootings are rare in the Central European country and alarm over Thursday’s incident prompted the prime minister, Petr Fiala, to cut short a trip to the city of Olomouc in the east of the Czech Republic and rush back to Prague.
Though generally very peaceful, the Czech capital was on edge even before Thursday’s killings, after a father and his baby daughter were found dead from gunshot wounds last week in Klanovice forest, a wealthy area east of Prague.
In 2019, a gunman killed six people in a hospital waiting room in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava. That had been the deadliest shooting since 2015, when a gunman killed eight people at a restaurant in Uhersky Brod, about 180 miles southeast of Prague.
In a message to residents posted on the social media platform X late Thursday the police urged people to leave the area around Charles University and “not to leave home. The police intervention is still ongoing.”
Prague’s interior minister, Vit Rakusan, said on social media that Thursday’s shooting was “unprecedented” in the history of the Czech Republic. “I want to express my sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of all the victims of the shooting,” he said. He also said that there was no indication that a second shooter had been involved.
The square where the shooting occurred is named after Jan Palach, a 20-year-old student who set himself on fire in 1969 to protest the invasion of what was then Czechoslovakia by troops from the Soviet Union and its allies in the Warsaw Pact. He died three days later, becoming a revered martyr to the anti-communist cause.
At the time of his death he was studying history at Charles University, founded in 1348 and one of the world’s oldest universities.
Barbora Petrova contributed reporting.