Prague commemorates shooting victims as questions arise over police action | International

This Saturday was an official day of mourning in the Czech Republic. Flags flew at half-mast. St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague hosted a massive funeral this morning in memory of the fatal victims of David K, the 24-year-old man who burst into the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters heavily armed on Thursday. At midday, the solemn ringing of bells swept the country from church to church, followed by a minute of silence. Two days after the tragedy, a rumor also spread, increasingly louder: how can a student register eight firearms without any alarm going off. Questions also arise about the police action on the day of the attack, the most serious in the country’s history. The perpetrator of the shooting was on the list of suspects for a crime committed on December 15 and on the day of the attack, the police knew in advance that he was heading towards Prague, armed, after finding his father dead. They went looking for him, but sent their patrols to a location that turned out to be wrong.

David K. was a withdrawn history student, with a good academic record, awarded for his thesis, and no criminal record, but with an extremely expensive and dangerous hobby: guns. The gate He wonders how he was able to build up an arsenal which, according to his calculations, could cost 480,000 crowns, or almost 20,000 euros. The assault rifle he used in the shooting that killed 14 people and injured 25 others is worth around 200,000 crowns alone, or more than 8,000 euros, he also points out.

But beyond the price, the question that raises the most doubts is how he obtained the license for this arsenal, which he registered a few months ago. The country has one of the EU’s most lax weapons laws, with the right to possession for self-defense enshrined in the Constitution. However, you also have to pass a series of exams to obtain a license, including mental aptitude tests. David K., according to, He recently had psychological problems for which he required treatment, leading to questions about how he obtained the permits. Some media today echo his alleged messages on social networks such as Telegram in which he expressed his intention to commit a massacre and imitate the shootings that occurred in Russia. Furthermore, he was not a member of any shooting or hunting associations, of which there are many in the country. We know that he took a shooting course a few months ago, but he went unnoticed and left no trace among his instructors.

No alarm went off among the police when they saw a young student suddenly register a number of weapons, including some large ones. The force’s deputy chief, Tomás Kubik, acknowledged that “the system or one person had failed” and announced that an investigation would be carried out to determine how the search of David K.’s arsenal could have gone unnoticed.

Minute of silence this Saturday in Prague for the victims of last Thursday’s shooting. DAVID W CERNY (Reuters)

Local media review the events of recent days and also note gaps in police action. First there is the murder in the Klánovice forest, in the district of Prague, east of the capital, of a man and his two-month-old baby. It was precisely because of his vast arsenal that David K. was one of more than 4,000 possible suspects, but he was not considered a priority. “We were a few days away from avoiding this tragic event,” the head of the Czech capital’s criminal police, Ales Strach, admitted on Radio Pragra. Ballistic tests confirmed this Friday that the weapon used in the crime is one of those of the perpetrator of the shooting.

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They are also in doubt actions of the day of events. Three hours before the shooting, police were informed that David K. was traveling to Prague with the intention of committing suicide. By then, they already knew his arsenal and knew he was armed. When they went to his home in Hostoun, about 20 kilometers west of the capital, they also found his father’s body in the cellar and an explosive device with a timer. The agents then went to the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of Charles University, Jan Palach Square, in the heart of Prague, where it was suspected that David K. was going. There, they were told that the student had a class scheduled in another nearby building on Celetná Street, regional police chief Petr Matejcek explained at a press conference.

The police went to this other headquarters, where they sent reinforcements, with the intention of evacuating it and left no one in the main building. But he also did not warn that there was a possibility that an armed student would appear. “There was no indication that he wanted to harm anyone. We suspected that he wanted to commit suicide,” explained Matejcek. When they saw that I wasn’t in the scheduled class, it was 2:28 p.m. At 2:59 p.m., police received the first report of a shooting in the main building. It took the police only four minutes to arrive, but David K. fired for 21 minutes, until at 3:20 p.m. he took his own life. “If in doubt, we will investigate in the usual manner of the internal control department. “I am proud of the work of the police,” said senior police official Martin Vondrásek.

As doubts dissipate, the country tries to overcome the trauma and pays tribute to the victims. The identity of three of them is already known. They are Lenka Hlavkova, director of the university’s Institute of Musicology; Jan Dlask, expert on Finnish literature; and Lucie Spindlerova, first-year student.

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