Czechia in shock as 14 die in university shooting

Memorial site in front of the Faculty of Arts building

Czechia is trying to come to terms with a horrific shooting incident in Prague that left 14 victims dead. Thursday’s attack on a Charles University facility was the worst such event ever in this country and Saturday has been declared a day of national mourning.

The Faculty of Arts building at Jan Palach square | Photo: René Volfík,

Sirens rang out on Jan Palach Square in the very heart of Prague at around 3 pm on Thursday as police launched an operation to quell a shooting incident at Charles University’s Faculty of Arts.

Within half an hour of the intervention the police had managed to end the incident, with the lone gunman responsible declared dead after taking his life with a shotgun.


The perpetrator, a 24-year-old history student at the faculty, had gone on the rampage, killing 14 people at the faculty and injuring two dozen, several seriously.

This second year student survived the attack, barricaded inside a classroom – and shares her terrifying ordeal.

“We were in class when there were some strange bangs. We thought someone was fooling around in the corridor but suddenly somebody shot through the door. We hid under our desks. He left, then returned and started shooting again. We were on the fourth floor and got out onto a ledge, above a balcony. Then we heard him coming out of the window so we jumped down.”

The police later found what they called an “arsenal” of weapons at the site, with officials saying their rapid intervention had prevented an even worse tragedy.

Vít Rakušan,  Petr Pavel and Petr Fiala at the press conference | Photo: René Volfík,

The prime minister, Petr Fiala, spoke for many in an address to the nation.

“Many lives, predominantly of young people, have been snuffed out for no reason. Many are injured; some, unfortunately, very seriously. There is no justification for this terrible act. Like many of you I feel deep sorrow, and disgust, in the face of this meaningless and brutal violence.”

Following a special cabinet session on Thursday night, it was announced that Saturday would be a day of national mourning for the victims of the attack, with flags at half mast. Collections for the victims’ families have also been launched.

Meanwhile, the case took a twist, when the police said they believed the gunman on Thursday could be responsible for the murder of a father and his two-month old baby girl in woodlands at Klánovice near Prague a week ago. Officers said they were waiting for a ballistics report.

Photo: René Volfík,

The police released further information about the Charles University attack on Friday morning, saying the gunman had also hit and injured three passers-by on the street outside the building.

As for those killed, the identities of all the victims are known to the authorities but most names had not been released early on Friday afternoon. One name that has been made public is that of is academic Lenka Hlávková, who headed the Department of Musicology.

One person died in a fall from the Faculty of Arts. Some people had climbed onto ledges high on the outside of the building in a bid to escape from the gunman.

It was reported that three of the injured were foreign nationals, two from the United Arab Emirates and one from the Netherlands.

Memorial site in front of the Carolinum | Photo: Ferdinand Hauser,  Radio Prague International