Shooting in Prague's Jan Palach Square leaves 15 people dead, dozens injured

The nation observed a day of mourning on Dec. 23 and security measures will be heightened in Prague until Jan. 1.

Expats.cz Staff ČTK

Written by Expats.cz StaffČTK Published on 21.12.2023 15:55:00 (updated on 02.01.2024) Reading time: 31 minutes

WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR

  • A shooting took place Thursday afternoon at Charles University's Faculty of Arts on Jan Palach Square around 3 p.m.
  • The shooter was said to have entered the building and then climbed onto the roof.
  • Reports say 15 people are dead and "dozens" are injured, 10 seriously.
  • The shooter is dead. The police have confirmed he committed suicide.
  • Reports say the shooter was a 24-year-old white male and student named David Kozák. His exact motive is unconfirmed
  • According to reports, Kozák killed a 55-year-old man, thought to be his father, in the nearby town of Kladno earlier today. They had been searching for him prior to the Prague university shooting.
  • Unverified images have surfaced of the killer posting his intentions to kill on social media app Telegram. He wrote all his messages in Russian.
  • Strong signs indicate that the killer was behind last Friday's double homicide at Klánovice forest. The murder weapon used at the forest is the exact same as one found at the killer's home.
  • Police found no bomb in the building, but explosions had been heard in the afternoon.
  • Interior Minister Vít Rakušan has said on live television that the Czech public "is not in immediate danger."
  • Prime Minister Petr Fiala has ruled out any organized terrorist acts.
  • This is one of the deadliest school shootings Europe has seen in the past 15 years.
  • World media and leaders comment on "the greatest tragedy in the country's modern history."
  • Dec. 23 was a day of mourning nationwide.

UPDATES

recap

  • A confirmed 15 people are dead following the shooting, including the killer. One person succumbed to their injuries in hospital.
  • The killer committed suicide after being approached by police.
  • Police link the man behind the shootings with last week's double homicide in Klánovice forest. The murder weapon used in the forest last week is identical to one found in the place of residence.
  • The shooter texted his mother early Thursday afternoon after killing his father. He told her he was traveling to Prague and would commit suicide. She then alerted the police.
  • His exact motive is unknown. His Telegram diary, in which he expresses his wishes to kill, is unverified. Police are still looking into it.
  • Dec. 23 was a national day of mourning. A one-minute silence was held at midday, with bells ringing nationwide at the same time. Flags were raised at half-mast and some government buildings erected black flags.
  • The government has announced increased security in Prague will be heightened until Jan. 1.
  • It took four minutes between the first call of alert and first police officer to enter Charles University's Faculty of Arts building.
  • The killer was found to have a large of ammunition and many weapons. A later intervention would have left more dead, police say.
  • President Petr Pavel has urged calm and unity, Interior Minister Vít Rakušan has warned against disinformation.
  • Masses will be held Saturday to honor the victims, including a large, televised mass at St. Vitus Cathedral at 11 a.m. Pavel will attend.

Dec. 30, 2023

12:00

Prague will host a memorial Month for the Faculty on Jan Palach Square in January, addressing the aftermath of a student's shooting spree. The initiative includes activities to help the academic community and the public cope with the tragic event.

The first event will be a candlelight procession from the Carolinum to the main Faculty of Arts building. Future events are currently being planned. The initiative provides a space for reflection and respect. The faculty has canceled classes through January 12 to support students in processing the tragedy.

10:30

Czech police continue to address about 90 cases of messages related to the tragic shooting at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University, including those in support of the attack and threats to carry out a follow-up. These cases predominantly involve instances on social networks.

Criminal proceedings have been initiated in 55 cases. Most cases are being investigated in the capital, followed by the Moravian-Silesian Region, Ústí Region, Central Bohemia, and Liberec Region.

Dec. 29, 2023

14:30

In response to the tragic shooting at Charles University's Faculty of Arts, the institution has officially cancelled the rest of its winter semester. Lectures and seminars are canceled, with the examination period remaining optional for students. The faculty building, where the lone gunman claimed 14 lives, will stay closed until at least the end of January.

Lecturers may hold voluntary meetings with students during the week of January 8, focusing on support rather than academic content. State final exams for students will also be voluntary, with non-participation not affecting students' academic progress.

13:00

The main building of Charles University's Faculty of Arts in Prague where the shooting took place will remain closed until at least the end of January, according to a statement from Charles University. The university's crisis team will provide information about the organization of the academic year and subsequent examination period to students and employees soon.

The rector, Milena Králíčková, anticipates a longer healing process for the entire university, emphasizing the need for sensitivity in the aftermath of the tragedy. Commemorative places at the site will be preserved until January 3, with symbolic events planned for January 2024.

10:00

A newly proposed Act on Weapons and Ammunition, currently under discussion in the Czech Republic's Chamber of Deputies, aims to grant doctors access to the central firearms registry. Expected to be effective from 2026, this regulation would enable doctors to verify whether their patients hold a firearms license.

The move comes in direct response to the shooting at Charles University's Faculty of Arts, where the perpetrator had a history of psychological treatment. The legislation requires attending physicians to report any patient illnesses affecting their medical capacity to the police promptly. The existing law, labeled as outdated, is set for a comprehensive overhaul.

Dec. 28, 2023

20:00

Charles University's Faculty of Arts main building will remain shut until at least the end of January, the university said in an official statement this evening. Rector Milena Králíčková mentioned that faculty staff and students will have classes take place at different university buildings.

15:00

Students in Brno have expressed concern about returning to university after the winter break. Fearful of returning, they stress the need for university crisis plans and educating staff and students on crisis responses.

14:30

Charles University rector Milena Králíčková said this afternoon that she plans to share information about the course of the academic year with employees and students by Friday. Schedules and timetables at other university faculties are expected to remain unchanged. 

Králíčková suggested the Arts Faculty might conduct exams online and utilize alternative university premises. Acknowledging a longer healing process, she emphasized the need for sensitivity and support among students and staff, foreseeing a period of weeks or even months for recovery across the university.

11:30

Minister of the Interior Vít Rakušan has reached out to municipalities nationwide, urging them to refrain from organizing New Year's Eve fireworks displays this year. "We've recently witnessed two horrific incidents of violence through shootings. The least we can do for those profoundly affected by these tragic events is to avoid exacerbating anxiety and refrain from intensifying the trauma caused by these acts," he wrote on social media site X.

09:30

Pavel Černý, an international instructor specializing in law enforcement, has voiced concerns about the effectiveness of conventional security measures following the tragic incident at the Prague Faculty of Arts. He argues against placing undue reliance on barriers, checkpoints, or broad weapon bans as a means of averting future attacks.

Černý contends that these strategies create vulnerable queues and simply relocate the threat to alternate nearby locations, such as shopping centers or other public spaces.

Instead, Černý advocates for a shift towards modernized security training tailored to address evolving threats. He emphasizes the importance of preparing security personnel to adapt to changing attack methodologies.

Dec. 27, 2023

17:00

A police spokesperson informed Czech news server Deník N that they found a confession letter at the former residence of the perpetrator behind last Thursday’s Prague mass shooting. The contents of the letter admitted to carrying out the Klánovice forest double homicide on Dec. 15.

Due to the ongoing investigation, the police cannot disclose the exact contents of the letter. The victims of the forest shooting were a 32-year-old man and his two-month-old daughter. Earlier, the police had confirmed discovering a weapon matching the type used in the Klánovice forest murders.

16:30

The Czech Foreign Ministry has said that international politicians shared over 1,000 condolences in an online book to pay respects to Czechia after the shooting. Czech embassies abroad provided the book's link last week, and politicians from a wide array of countries – such as Slovakia, the Netherlands, Yemen, Argentina, New Zealand, Japan, and the U.S. – signed the book.

15:30

Charles University's crisis staff met online today and will do so again on Thursday and Friday, as confirmed by university rector Milena Králíčková. Among the matters discussed was the potential reopening of the faculty building to all students.

Currently, students and staff from the Faculty of Arts have the opportunity to retrieve their personal belongings from the Faculty of Law building at Charles University. Another opportunity for retrieval is slated for January. Králíčková estimates that over half of the items have already been collected by individuals.

13:00

The police have announced that the shooter was being treated for psychological problems in the months running up to his killing rampage. News site iDnes asks how the man – despite mental health issues – was able to acquire a firearms license just six months ago. During this time, the man registered eight guns under his name.

12:00

Czech police have said on social media network X that they are actively investigating over 60 cases that explicitly approve of, or “admire,” the shooting. They have identified individuals in 30 of these cases.

11:00

The Czech General Inspectorate of the Security Forces (GIBS), a security force that assesses the Czech police, is now officially investigating the police's response to last Thursday’s mass shooting. "We are thoroughly reviewing all available information related to the incident, maintaining close communication with the police. Additionally, we are actively considering the suggestions provided by the public," said GIBS spokesperson Ivana Nguyenová.

Dec. 26, 2023

21:00

During his Christmas speech broadcast on Tuesday evening, Prime Minister Petr Fiala referenced last Thursday’s mass shooting in Prague. He said that Czechs were thinking of the families, loved ones, and friends of those affected by the attack. “We are all deeply affected by the brutal and indefensible shooting…despite all the tragedies, people believe that the power of good can defeat evil, that better times will come after hard times,” Fiala added. 

16:30

Czech police continue to actively investigate messages spread on social media related to last week's tragic shooting, typically statements supporting the act or threatening further violence. Police also asked media for moderation in their coverage of the shooting, to avoid contributing to a cult of the mass murderer.

"Across the country, we are currently dealing with more than five dozen different cases, most often from the environment of social media," police write on X. "These usually relate to the spread of an alarmist message, dangerous threats, or the approval of a crime."

"Yesterday [Monday] alone, Prague criminal investigators dealt with another seven cases of dangerous threats (typically 'it's my turn now' and similar messages) or approval of the attack on the Faculty of Arts at Charles University. The vast majority of these 'heroes' have already been dealt with."

10:00

Prague continues to mourn the victims of the tragic shooting at Charles University's Faculty of Arts through the Christmas holidays. Memorial sites at the Carolinum and Jan Palach Square are adorned with thousands of candles, flowers, and messages. Candles and flowers also fill the rector's office, where mourners gather.

The community, deeply affected by Thursday's shooting, has demonstrated solidarity by raising almost 49 million crowns for survivors and the bereaved. More than 36,000 people have contribute to the fund.

9:15

Czech police announced in a post on social network X this morning that yesterday criminal investigators dealt with another seven cases of threats of the "now it's my turn variety" or expressions of approval of the Charles University attack. Among them, a man threatening to shoot up a hostel in Rakovník. In the post, police also thanked the media who are "not involved in building the cult of the mass murderer."

8:30

Seven victims injured in the Charles University shooting and hospitalized at Motol University Hospital remain stable, with two in the Anesthesiology and Resuscitation department and five in various intensive care units. General University Hospital in Prague reports one stable patient, anticipating an extended stay.

The University Hospital Královské Vinohrady discharged two patients for home treatment, with five others remaining hospitalized in stable condition. Contrary to rumors, no fatalities occurred at this hospital.

Dec. 25, 2023

12:00

Prague's city center saw people gathering at memorials dedicated to the victims of Thursday's tragic shooting at Charles University's Faculty of Arts throughout the Christmas holidays. Thousands of candles adorned the university's main seat in Prague and the Faculty of Arts building, as mourners paid respects.

Police officers, armed with submachine guns, have patrolled the city since the shooting. Collections for the bereaved and survivors reached around 45 million crowns. Despite the somber atmosphere, Christmas activities continued in the city. The shooting, which claimed 14 lives and injured 25, led to solidarity and fundraisers, with the most significant contribution being to the Charles University Endowment Fund.

Dec. 24, 2023

13:00

On the day of national mourning in the Czech Republic, Slovakia expressed solidarity by raising black flags in front of the Presidential Palace in Bratislava and the Office of the Government of the Slovak Republic.

"With this symbolic gesture, the Slovak Republic honors the victims of the tragic shooting at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University in Prague. At the same time, we show that Slovaks belong together with the inhabitants of the Czech Republic," read an official comment from the Slovak government office.

10:00

"The news of the tragedy at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University came like a bolt from the blue just before Christmas," writes Czech President Petr Pavel this Christmas. "The families and friends of the victims, as well as those who suffered serious injuries, are now experiencing pain that is hard to imagine. Unfortunately, they are not alone. Every day, for many reasons, we lose loved ones."

"It is important that these days we think of all those who cannot experience the joy of the holidays. Let us respect their pain and not leave them alone in it."

8:30

The Czech community has rallied, donating over 38 million crowns to aid victims and their families. The Charles University Endowment Fund has collected nearly 33.2 million crowns itself from 29,000 contributors, with Prague City Hall pledging an additional five million.

Additionally, the Znesnáze21 collection has received almost CZK 4.8 million, directed toward psychological and material assistance, recovery, and physiotherapy for the injured. Masaryk University in Brno also organized a solidarity fund, receiving CZK 487,000 crowns from 662 donors.

DEC. 23, 2023

13:30

Archbishop Jan Graubner led a somber service honoring the victims of Thursday's tragedy at St. Vitus Cathdral in Prague Castle. Acknowledging the existence of evil, Graubner stressed the necessity to confront it rather than turning a blind eye. Roses, symbolizing each victim, adorned the altar.

Charles University Rector Milena Králíčková emphasized the irreplaceable loss of each life. President Petr Pavel and parliamentary leaders attended, while cities modified events and TV schedules.

12:15

Church bells rang nationwide at noon today in remembrance of the 14 victims of Thursday's tragic shooting. People observed a minute of silence, with shops and Prague airport suspending activities.

Despite rain, mourners gathered at places of worship near the university. Senate chair Miloš Vystrčil and others laid wreaths, urging cohesion and support for survivors. The government declared a state of mourning today, impacting services and public spaces.

11:40

Dean Eva Lehečková of Charles University's Faculty of Arts issued a statement acknowledging the profound impact of the mass shooting. Lehečková emphasized the need for collective strength and mutual support within the academic community. The dean expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support from other institutions and individuals.

"The full weight of the experience of the last few days will weigh on us both psychologically and practically in the first months of the new year, and we will need our strength and readiness to help each other as the main pillars for our recovery," Lehečková writes.

09:40

Pilsen held a morning mass at 8 a.m. to honor the victims, while Brno, Hradec Králové, and Ostrava will all hold masses starting at 3 p.m. Olomouc's commemoration will get underway at 4 p.m.

The traditional singing of late Czech composer Jan Ryba's Czech Christmas Mass at Prague's Hlavní nádraží main train station will undergo program changes. The orchestra will perform pieces like Lacrimosa and the Prayer for Marta anthem played during the Day of Freedom and Democracy on Nov. 17.

09:15

"Buses, trams, and the subway will symbolically remember the dead at 11:59 a.m. by ringing their bells," Daniel Šabík, a spokesman for the Prague Public Transport company (DPP), announced this morning.

08:30

The Czech Republic will observe national mourning today in remembrance of the victims of the recent shooting at Charles University's Faculty of Arts. State flags across offices and institutions will fly at half-mast alongside black flags. Additionally, church bells will toll at noon in honor of those affected by this tragic incident.

A requiem mass for the victims of the shooting will be held at 11 a.m. at St. Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle, an event organized by the Prague Archbishopric and the Castle. At 3 p.m., a silence for the victims of the shooting will be held at the Church of St. Martin in the Wall in Prague.

Dec. 22, 2023

21:05

As of Friday night, the Charles University Endowment Fund for the victims and university has surpassed over CZK 25 million in donations. Various ways to help the victims of the shooting can be found in our article.

20:45

Police were called to respond to a threat at Prague's I.P. Pavlova, where a man was seen holding what seemed to be a grenade. This incident caused traffic interruptions and tram diversions. Witnesses reported that three individuals were apprehended by the police, only for it to be later revealed that the object in question was a fake grenade. Police spokesman Jan Daněk clarified that no arrests were made. As a precaution, trams were redirected, and access to the I.P. Pavlova metro station was restricted to the public.

20:15

Student of Charles University Magdalena Křístková, also a member of the parish choir of the Evangelical Church of the Czech Brethren in Roztoky, is another person confirmed dead in the shooting.

19:30

Lidové noviny confirmed that its proofreader, Lucie Špindlerová, died in the attacks.

18:00

Several cities in the Pilsen region are either limiting or canceling their pre-Christmas cultural programs. Christmas celebrations are also significantly reduced in the center of Brno in view of the tragedy in Prague. On Saturday, as part of national mourning, the numerous planned musical performances on the central Freedom Square and the nearby Green Market will not take place.

17:40

Pope Francis feels "deep sadness" over the shooting in Prague and expressed his spiritual closeness to all those affected by this tragedy, news portal Vatican News writes.

17:25

Czech Health Minister Vlastimil Válek has said that seven individuals who were hospitalized after the shooting have already been discharged. He expressed gratitude to the medical teams and hospital staff for their dedicated care of the injured individuals on social media site X.

17:15

Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda has held an emergency Prague City Council meeting, approving a donation of CZK 10 million for those affected by Thursday's attacks. A total of CZK 5 million will go to aid the families of victims, teachers, and students through the Charles University Foundation, and another CZK 5 million for the Prague Security Department's emergency-related expenses.

17:00

British King Charles III and his wife have expressed their condolences in a personal message to President Petr Pavel after the shooting at the Prague university. They said they were shocked by the tragedy.

BREAKING, 16:20

Czech police have confirmed that the murder weapon used in Klánovice forest last week (which saw the death of a father and his young daughter) is identical to one found in the place of residence of the man behind Thursday's Prague mass shootings. While it is not 100-percent confirmed that the man is also behind the forest murders, this is now looking increasingly likely.

16:05

The University of Ostrava has honored the victims of Thursday's shooting in Prague with a minute of silence. Students, teachers and the public took part in the act in front of the Faculty of Philosophy building at noon. About 300 people gathered.

15:20

An ecumenical service will be held at 7:30 p.m. in Prague's Church of the Holy Savior for the victims of the shooting, the church confirms.

15:00

Interior Minister Vít Rakušan has continued to urge the public to seek out information from only valid and reliable sources. The government has also made reference to the presence of "bot farms," which are likely from Russia, that have disseminated false information about the killer being Ukrainian.

14:48

Police have also said they are dealing with "eight cases of violent reactions to the shooting."

14:45

Police say that four individuals have been detained by the police for their unlawful reactions to the shooter's actions at Charles University's Faculty of Arts. A 14-year-old high school student from the Olomouc Region is being reprimanded by the police after making threats to carry out a school shooting. Police President Martin Vondrášek highlighted at a press conference today that threats are also being directed towards the shooter's family.

14:00

Police have made another update to the case of a person (see 11:30 a.m. today) who threatened to emulate the shooter. Police released footage of the man's residence being stormed and him being arrested.

13:50

Police have also said that the gunman at the Faculty of Arts hit three people in the street Thursday afternoon, injuring them, and two cars.

13:30

According to the Minister of the Interior Vít Rakušan, there is no danger at the moment. 

"Thursday's intervention showed that we have an integrated rescue system that people can rely on," added Rakušan at a press conference. "It's not just the police and firemen it's also the paramedics," he added.

12:55

The Office of the President of the Republic has announced via the X social network that the castle guard will cease Christmas musical performances. Flags at the Castle will be flown at half-mast from this afternoon onwards, with this practice extending to all other locations starting tomorrow.

12:50

President Petr Pavel has confirmed he will attend a special ceremony for the victims of Thursday's shooting at St. Vitus Cathedral on Saturday at 11 a.m.

12:45

Organizers of the Ostrava Christmas event have canceled the cultural program scheduled for Friday and Saturday at the Main Stage in Masaryk Square. Instead, the final concert of the funeral mass honoring the shooting victims will be held on Saturday at 3 p.m. in the Cathedral of the Divine Savior in Ostrava.

12:40

Hana Tietze, the spokesperson for the organizing company behind the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square Christmas markets, confirmed that it would make adjustments to the markets today and on Saturday following Thursday's shooting.

12:30

Authorities say that the police were first made aware of the situation when an acquaintance (now confirmed to be mother) of the killer contacted them early Thursday afternoon, saying that the assailant texted her his plans of suicide and that he was heading into Prague.

11:30

The police have just said that they today detained a person who threatened to follow the example of the attacker in Prague and shoot. They announced this without further details at today's press conference.

11:25

An earlier statement from the Public Prosecutor's Office has confirmed that it is "likely" Thursday's killer was behind last week's Klánovice forest murders. However, it stressed that this is not 100 percent certain.

11:22

The police have released body-camera footage of fully armed officers entering the faculty building Thursday afternoon.

11:20

The police are having a morning press conference about Thursday's events. They now confirm that the killer committed suicide after being swarmed by police.

11:02

The Prague Public Transport Company (DPP) has confirmed on its website that all tram lines in the area have resumed operation. This includes the reopening of Staroměstská metro station.

11:00

Police have announced they are patrolling the Faculty of Arts at Jan Palach Square and its surrounding area, and also closely monitoring other faculties and educational institutions. The center of Prague today will have a slightly increased police presence but no serious changes are to be made to day-to-day life.

10:55

Charles University's Institute of Musicology at the Faculty of Music has confirmed the loss of Lenka Hlávková, who was the director of the musicology institute.

10:50

Prime Minister Petr Fiala has arrived at the vigil outside Charles University's Faculty of Arts. He called for unity, consideration, and respect.

09:40

Of the three foreigners injured in the shooting at Charles University, two are from the United Arab Emirates and one is from the Netherlands, the Ministry of the Interior has announced.

09:15

The Charles University Endowment Fund to raise money for the victims' families has reached over CZK 7 million in donations. Full information on donating can be found on the university's official website.

08:50

Members of the public are bringing candles and flowers in front of the Faculty of Philosophy building this morning to pay tribute to the dead. The first to arrive are relatives, friends or classmates of the deceased. "The first candle was brought by a young lady completely in tears," describes a Seznam Zprávy reporter from the scene.

The first candles and flowers were laid last night at the Charles University building.

08:30

Police now say 13 of the 14 victims have been identified.

07:40

Authorities confirm that all shops in the area and surrounding tram services are back in normal operation.

07:30

Police now officially confirm that the weapon the killer used was a ZEV 308 Win AR10 assault rifle. It is a self-loading gun. Analysts comment that assault rifles are often used during school shootings in the U.S.

07:15

Police have confirmed this morning that 11 of the 14 victims in the attack have been identified. No details on their names or nationalities have yet been disclosed to the public. Unverified information online suggests that almost all are Czech.

06:30

The U.S. president and the head of UN have expressed their condolences. President Joe Biden told journalists: "My heart goes out to those who lost their lives in today's (Thursday's) senseless shooting in Prague, to the injured and to the people in the Czech Republic," Biden said. He added that the U.S. authorities are in contact with the Czech security forces. "We are ready to provide additional assistance if needed," Biden said.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres was also shocked and saddened by the news of the Charles University shooting. He expressed "his deepest condolences to the relatives of the victims" and his wish for the injured to recover as soon as possible. "The Secretary-General once again expresses his full solidarity with the Czech people and government," the UN announced.

DEC. 22, 2023

22:45

"We have had one of the most terrible days in the modern history of the Czech Republic. And we are about to wake up to a joyless day, joyless days," Interior Minister Vít Rakušan concludes. He announced that the cabinet will meet Czechia's police chief at 11 a.m. Friday. The press conference ends.

22:42

Vít Rakušan said that the country “has never experienced anything like this." He also warned the public of any disinformation: "We provide all the information that can be provided that is relevant and verified. Please refer to these sources as the ones you will share,” he stated.

22:40

President Petr Pavel has given a heartfelt message to the country. He expressed "great sadness and impotent rage over the completely unnecessary loss of so many young lives." Pavel continued: “We need piety, restraint, and cohesion. We need to find inner peace and reasonable solutions to prevent such situations in the future and to improve the system we have. We will work to identify possible problems.”

22:37

Starting the conference that features Czechia's prime minister, interior minister, and president, Prime Minister Petr Fiala has called on all people across Czechia to observe a one-minute silence in memory of the victims of Thursday afternoon's tragedy on Saturday (Dec. 23) at midday. Flags from government buildings will also be flown at half-mast for the whole of Saturday and bells will ring at midday.

22:15

Some members of the cabinet and President Petr Pavel are holding behind-closed-doors emergency talks following this afternoon's deadly attack. The media are waiting for the press conference, which should take place soon.

21:18

The police have confirmed they have completed searches of the shooter's place of residence in the Central Bohemian town of Kladno. Authorities say that no danger was found. A large object, which could have been a computer, was taken from the home. Police say that the assailant murdered his father at the house earlier today before traveling to Prague.

21:10

Rakušan has told journalists that firearms legislation in the Czech Republic is relatively strict and well-set. He pointed out that it is difficult to predict that a person who has no record in the criminal register would commit such a serious crime.

"I express my deepest condolences to all relatives, known victims of this unprecedentedly insane act, which the Czech Republic has never seen before in its history. It is something that we all fear, something that is difficult to prevent. The tragedy is profound, it will have many other consequences,” said Rakušan this evening.

20:50

Rakušan told Czech Television that the identities of the deceased are still unconfirmed. If any foreigners were killed, the relevant embassies and consulates would be contacted immediately, Rakušan said.

20:42

At a press conference, Czechia’s police chief Martin Vondrášek noted that today’s shooter had a huge arsenal of weapons and ammunition located in the faculty building. Vondrášek notes that were it not for the hasty actions of police, more would have been killed. The assailant legally owned several firearms.

20:30

New developments have found that the killer may also have been behind a double homicide that took place in Prague’s Klánovice forest last Friday.

"We are working very seriously with the version, which is very real at the moment, that today’s attacker is also responsible for the two victims killed last Friday at Klánovice forest,” said Czech police chief Martin Vondrášek. Six days ago, an unknown assailant shot dead a 32-year-old man and his two-year-old daughter in the forest.

Vondrášek says that the killer may have left "traces" in the forest, based on an identified discovery at the man's place of residence in Kladno.

20:10

The U.S. White House has expressed its regret for "the senseless act of violence" and stated that the U.S. is ready to provide all necessary support to the Czech Republic.

19:58

"From the information I have, this was a premeditated horrific act that started in Kladno and unfortunately ended here," said Vondrášek at an impromptu press conference not far from the crime scene.

19:30

The police have said they are investigating the authenticity of Kozák's supposed Telegram account, in which he appears to have announced plans of his killings. The police assert that the account is unverified and may not belong to Kozák.

18:45

Police have asked members of the public who have any materials (photo, video, audio) depicting the situation, or other information about the killer, to not publish them in the public domain.

18:20

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico has expressed to Slovak journalists his sincere condolences to the families of the victims of today's shooting at the University of Prague in Prague. He stated that Slovakia is ready to help.

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, French President Emmanuel Macron, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are among others who have offered support and sympathy.

18:12

According to the police, there is no indication that the shooter had accomplices. No police officers were harmed during the response.



HOW IT UNFOLDED

Czech police Thursday afternoon reported on social media site X a shooting near Prague 1’s Jan Palach Square around 3 p.m. and confirmed multiple fatalities and injuries. The shooting took place at Charles University’s Faculty of Arts. 

The police have confirmed the shooter is dead.

Fourteen people including the killer are dead. Twenty-five are injured, 10 in a serious condition.

Reports have identified the shooter as 24-year-old David Kozák. Police have said he committed a homicide earlier today in the nearby Central Bohemian city of Kladno, before traveling to Prague to commit more murders. He was a student at Charles University's Faculty of Arts.

"We urge citizens not to stay in the vicinity and not to leave the house," said the police at around 4:30 p.m.

The police have closed off the entire square and surrounding area. Traffic has been diverted and the police advise the public to stay away from the area – preferably home. The area is closed until midnight.

Enquiries and footage

  • Police have set up a crisis line for the public due to the tragic shooting in Prague, on 974 823 158. Enquiries, information, and help should be directed there, not to line 158.
  • Police have also asked members of the public who have any materials (photo, video, audio) depicting the situation, or other information about the killer, to not publish them in the public domain. They must instead be sent to the National Center against Terrorism, Extremism and Cybercrime on the e-mail: nctekk.multimedia@pcr.cz

The Staroměstská metro station is closed due to the intervention of the police. The police officers present at the station are not letting people out onto the street, according to Deník N.

Speaking to Czech news site Seznam Zprávy, Charles University Faculty of Arts spokesperson Tereza Marková says that employees were instructed to stay put, lock themselves in their offices, barricade themselves, and turn off the lights.

Students: 'We barricaded ourselves'

A student spoke to Seznam Zprávy directly after the incident. "We are barricaded in the cabinet, but we have no idea what is going on. We had a seminar, suddenly someone said that there is someone with a gun in the building, we blockaded ourselves inside and we are waiting. A shot could be heard. The police know about us, we have to wait here," said the student.

According to unverified information from Seznam Zprávy, a social media chat containing students at the Faculty of Arts reported contained messages describing individuals falling from the third or fourth floors while escaping the shooter. One student is said to have died due to slipping from the ledge of the building while trying to escape the attacker.

Czech server tn.cz published a photograph of an armed man on the roof of the building. The publication also wrote that an explosion was heard from the scene.

EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT

Natalie, who was near the area at the time of the shooting, told Expats.cz that she saw tens of students and some staff run out of the building around 3 p.m. screaming and in tears. "I saw a swarm of police cars and ambulances arrive to the area, then cordoned it off," she told us. "The shooter was wearing black clothes and looked young. He was standing on the top of Charles University's Faculty of Arts building," she added. "I saw one dead body near the entrance of the building." All onlookers were told to leave the area.

"There are probably several injured people at the scene. We do not yet have information on the type and number of injured," said a spokeswoman for Prague’s ambulance services.

Several rescue crews, including police and ambulances, are currently at the scene.

Health Minister Vlastimil Válek said on the X social network that Prague's university hospitals are ready to receive the injured. The Central Military Hospital and the General Faculty Hospital activated the so-called trauma plan and prepared for mass admission of the wounded.

Reports: Gunman killed earlier in the day

Central Bohemian police officers have also said that earlier today they searched for a young man in connection with the violent death of a 55-year-old man in the nearby city of Kladno earlier today. Reports suggest there is a direct link with the Charles University shooting.

Dozens of police officers had stormed a house in Kladno with submachine guns in relation to the incident.

Is killer also behind Klánovice forest murders?

The police have suggested that the killer may be linked to last week's murder in Klánovice forest, in which a father and two-month-old daughter were killed last Friday. Czech police chief Martin Vondrášek says he is working with the "very real" possibility that today's killer was also behind the murders in Klánovice forest. The assailant is said to have left "traces" in the forest.

Czechia’s police chief also noted that today’s shooter had a huge arsenal of weapons and ammunition on him when he was found dead. The killer legally owned several firearms.

‘I hate the world’: What we know about the killer

The killer has been named as 24-year-old David Kozák, a student at Charles University’s Faculty of Arts. Unverified images have surfaced online of him broadcasting a diary on social media app Telegram, with all messages written in Russian.

Kozák graduated with a bachelor's degree in history and European studies and then continued with a subsequent master's degree in history.

"This will be my diary of how I do a school shooting," the author said in his first post. "Always wanted to kill, thought I'd become a maniac in the future,” he added. On Telegram, he wrote that he was inspired by the actions of Russian schoolgirl Alina Afanaskinova, who earlier this month killed two students and wounded five.

"Everyone just hated me, hates me, and will continue to hate me. I don't give a f**k, because it's mutual," he wrote on Dec. 11.

He wrote on Telegram that he hated the world and wanted “to leave behind as much pain as possible.”

His last post is dated Dec. 19, when the author described “unbearable ringing” in his ears.

Authorities say he had zero criminal record and legally owned several firearms.

Reaction at home

President Petr Pavel has commented: "I am shocked by the events at the Faculty of Arts at Charles University. I would like to express my deep regret and sincere condolences to the families and relatives of the victims of the shooting. I would like to thank the citizens for respecting the instructions of the security forces and providing maximum cooperation."

Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda has described the situation as a tragedy, likening it to the 9/11 U.S. attacks. "I'm speechless. All I feel at the moment is sadness. But as Mayor of Prague, I must respond. And reassure the people of Prague that they are safe. We have witnessed a tragedy of unprecedented proportions. It is terrible how many innocent lives have been lost," he said.

Prime Minister Fiala wrote earlier on X: "Due to the tragic events in Prague, I have canceled my work program in Olomouc and am going back to Prague."

"There is no justification for this terrible act. I feel deep sadness and disgust," he said later. "Let us now think of those who have lost their loved ones and for whom this Christmas will be unimaginably sad. Let us share with them their grief and pain," Fiala added. The prime minister urged co-operation with the police.

World leaders respond

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in response to the shooting in Prague that she was shocked by the "senseless violence," and expressed her condolences to the families of the victims and the Czech nation.

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico expressed his sincere condolences to the families of the victims of today's shooting at the Faculty of Arts of the Charles University in Prague. He declared that Slovakia is ready to help. 

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said on X: "We have received shocking news of several people killed at the university in Prague. My thoughts are with the victims and the injured. All our solidarity and sympathy goes out to our Czech neighbors and friends in this difficult hour."

Media outlets BBC News, CNN, France24, and others have all featured the Prague shooting on their homepages.

mental health support

  • For English-speaking support, the Erasmus Student Network of Charles University has two phone lines available for mental health support during this time. You do not need to be a student to call these lines. They are: +420 974 834 688 and +420 773 177 636.
  • Charles University has crisis chats where support is provided by trained psychologists. Students of the university can access support here. Those who are not affiliated with the university can still find support here.
  • Anti-violence charity In Iustita has two phone lines available to those in need: 773 177 636 and 773 177 844 (likely to be in Czech only)
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