A promising athlete, a volunteer firefighter, a renowned academic. Czechs mourn the 14 killed in university mass shooting

A promising athlete, a volunteer firefighter, a renowned academic. Czechs mourn the 14 killed in university mass shooting
  • PublishedDecember 24, 2023

Czech Republic is observing a national day of mourning on Saturday after the worst peacetime shooting in the history of the country left 14 dead and dozens wounded at Charles University in Prague.

Among the victims were number of young students, a beloved lecturer and a respected department head.

The government ordered flags to be flown at half-staff and said a minute of silence was held at noon nationwide.

Bells across the country will toll for the victims of the attack, according to Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala.

The central European nation of 10 million was left in shock and horror after a gunman opened fire at the university’s School of Arts on Thursday, on what was meant to be the penultimate day of lectures before the Christmas holiday.

In total, 14 victims were killed: 13 were found dead at the scene, described by several long-time police officials as the most horrific site they’ve seen. Another victim died after being taken to hospital. The shooter killed himself.

As Czechs continue to struggle with the scale of the tragedy — mass shootings are rare, though not unheard of in the country — stories of those murdered in the attack are coming to light.

The Department of Musicology at the school announced Friday that its director Lenka Hlávková was one of the victims of the shooting.

Hlávková was a renowned expert in the musical culture of medieval central Europe and the department said in a statement her death was “extremely cruel” news.

A post on the official Facebook page of the university’s Department of Germanic Studies said that one of its lecturers, Jan Dlask, was also killed in the attack.

The statement described Dlask as “a friend, classmate and a wonderful and kind person, an expert in Finnish and Fenno-Swedish literature.”

Mourners bring flowers and candles outside the building of Philosophical Faculty of Charles University in downtown Prague, Czech Republic, Saturday, Dec. 23, 2023. A lone gunman opened fire at a university on Thursday, killing more than a dozen people and injuring scores of people. (AP Photo/Denes Erdos)

The attack happened as the university was on the brink of breaking up for Christmas.Denes Erdos/AP

Lidové Noviny, a Czech national daily newspaper, said in a statement that one of its employees, a proofreader and a first year student of Czech language and deaf studies Lucie Špindlerová was killed in the attack.

A photograph of Špindlerová published by the newspaper shows a young, smiling woman posing in large hat and smelling blooming flowers.

The newspaper said Špindlerová was “a colleague and, most importantly, a friend” and that her death was “extremely painful news.”

Magdaléna Křístková, another student of languages and deaf studies, was also killed, according to a statement issued by the authorities in her hometown of Roztoky.

The statement said she was an active member of the community, taking part in a municipal events and a camping club for children.

“Joyful, kind, incredibly talented and creative, Majda is no longer with us and we will miss her tremendously,” the statement said, referring to Křístková by her pet name.

The Czech Athletic Federation announced that 20-year old shot putter Klára Holcová was also among those murdered in the attack.

The federation described Holcová as a “promising” young athlete who won nine medals at various Czech championships and represented Czech Republic at international track and field meetings.

Holcová studied Czech studies and archival sciences at the university, the federation said, adding that the news of her death was “soul crushing.” A photograph attached to the statement showed Holcová in Czech national kit, competing at an event.

The Volunteer Fire Brigade in Velichovky, a village in northern Bohemia, said one of its members, Aneta Richterová, was also killed in the attack.

A statement on the brigade’s Facebook page described Richterová as “beloved daughter and sister, smiling and always sincere friend.”

As the Czech Police began investigating the attack, it emerged the shooter was most likely responsible for three more murders before embarking on his deadly rampage in Prague.

A body of a man, identified later as the shooter’s father, was found at the family’s home in Hostouň shortly after the police received the first tips about the shooter.

Later on Thursday, the police also linked the killer to a double murder  of a man and his two-month old baby in a Prague suburb last week. On Friday, the police said the weapon used in that attack was found in the shooter’s home.

SOURCE: CNNNEWS

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