Prague shooting: day of mourning in Czech Republic for 14 killed by gunman at university

Police are continuing to search for a motive

Candles, flowers and photos of victims are placed outside the building of Charles University following a mass shooting earlier this week. Photo: Getty Images
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A national day of mourning has been declared in the Czech Republic after 14 people were killed in the country’s worst mass shooting.

Twenty-seven people were injured, including an Emirati couple, when a student opened fire at the Charles University campus in the capital, Prague.

The couple were named as husband and wife Ahmed Ibrahim Obaid Ali Al Ali and Rowdah Al Mehrizi, although the severity of their injuries has not been disclosed.

Mr Al Ali is the director general of Umm Al Quwain municipality, and Ms Al Mehrizi is the director of marketing and corporate communication at Dubai's Road and Transport Authority.

At the university headquarters in Prague, a crowd that included Prime Minister Petr Fiala and US ambassador Bijan Sabet paid their respects to the victims.

Some visitors knelt to light candles and lay flowers while others stood crying and hugging each other.

Students have lit thousands of candles at makeshift memorials at the faculty of arts and the university headquarters near by. Flags on public buildings were flown at half-staff.

“We are here to show our support as fellow students,” said Czech student Daniel Broz.

“I was on the other side of the river and hearing gunshots, pops and not knowing what is going on and then a flurry of police cars passing by was absolutely surreal especially as a Czech who has never witnessed and event similar to this before.”

Police are continuing to search for a motive for the attack.

Following a search at the gunman's home, police drew a link between him and the murder of a young man and his two-month-old daughter during a walk in a Prague forest on December 15, whose investigation stalled on a lack of evidence.

The Health Ministry said 27 people were admitted or treated at six Prague hospitals, many with gunshot wounds. Out of those, 12 remained in serious condition and at least one in critical condition.

Authorities also began releasing more details about the attack and events that preceded the shooting, which was carried out by a 24-year-old arts student, police say.

He is most likely to have shot himself after police cornered him on a balcony and dropped his long-barrel gun with sights, said Petr Matejcek, director of the Prague regional police.

The police showed body camera video of special police units storming the university building, searching corridors and rooms and treating gunshot victims.

The video also showed police on the roof carrying what appeared to be a body, and later, people leaving the building with hands above their heads.

Authorities said the suspect, whom they asked not to be named, had killed his father at home outside Prague before travelling to the capital.

Police had information from a friend of the gunman that he intended to kill himself and were searching for him at another university building, where he was to attend a lecture.

But he instead went to the main faculty of arts building, on a busy square across the river from the Prague Castle and hundreds of metres from the Old Town Square, one of Europe's major tourist attractions.

Updated: December 23, 2023, 11:13 AM