Czech town in shock following mass shooting

Photo: CTK

The inhabitants of the Moravian town of Uherský Brod are picking up the pieces today following a mass shooting on Tuesday, which left nine people dead. Reports suggest a disturbed 62-year-old man with a grudge against the authorities decided to randomly slaughter innocent customers in a local restaurant.

Photo: CTK
Shortly after noon Tuesday, the Družba restaurant in the southern part of Uherský Brod was serving lunch to around 20 patrons. A 62-year-old man with no previous criminal history then burst in brandishing two firearms – apparently legally owned. He subsequently shot dead eight people, seven men and one woman. Police were soon called to the scene and negotiated with the assailant for two hours before deciding to storm the establishment at 2:30 pm. At this point, the gunman is understood to have turned a gun on himself.

Czech Police President Tomáš Tuhý said that given the sheer number of casualties, the investigation into the case would take some time. Meanwhile, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (ČSSD) said that he was sure the police did all they could:

Tomáš Tuhý,  Milan Chovanec,  photo: CTK
“The police arriving at the scene were under direct threat of this armed assailant. They responded by first sealing off the area. When police entered the premises, then the assailant committed suicide. The police acted to prevent the armed gunman from leaving this site, and threatening the rest of the town. I want to thank the police for the job they did and am very pleased the siege was ended this way.”

A waitress is also reported to have been injured during the incident, while another witnesses described escaping the carnage by hiding in the toilet. Police did not immediately release the names of the victims, saying they wanted to first confirm their identities and inform loved ones. However, on Wednesday morning, the gunman was identified by the abbreviated “Zdeněk K.”

Uherský Brod mayor Patrik Kunčar described the town’s sense of horror following the shooting:

Patrik Kunčar,  photo: CTK
“It is a huge shock – not only for the inhabitants of Uherský Brod, but for the entire Czech Republic, and even the world. Because for one crazed shooter to be able to cause such a high number of casualties is really difficult to comprehend. I don’t know what the impact will be in the future, but right now my focus is on the survivors and the families of the victims.”

A picture has now begun to emerge of the gunman as a highly disturbed individual. The assailant reportedly placed a call to a crime hotline operated by television station Prima minutes before entering the Družba restaurant. Pavel Lebduška, a reporter for Prima Television, described his conversation:

“He simply told us to bring a camera crew to Uherský Brod. I asked him why. At first, he did not want to explain why. But in the end, he revealed that he was experiencing major problems with many people; that many people were injuring him; and because the authorities would not help him, he had but one possible solution. He explained that he had a gun, and was now going to deal with the matter in his own way.”

Photo: CTK
Lebduška says he immediately called the police to inform them of this call – but by then it was too late.

Shortly after 10 pm on Tuesday, a police unit stormed the address of the alleged assailant. The man’s wife is understood to have refused them admittance until her husband returned home.

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and President Miloš Zeman have both expressed their sense of shock at the tragedy.