Belgrade shooting: What we know about the attack
A 13-year-old boy opened fire on his classmates at a school in the Serbian capital Belgrade on Wednesday, rocking the Balkan country.
The shooting left at least eight children dead, along with a security guard. While Serbia is awash with guns, mass shootings like these are rare.
Here’s what we know.
The horrific events unfolded early in the school day on Wednesday, at Vladislav Ribnikar Elementary School, a well-known institution in Vračar, an upscale area of the Serbian capital.
After arriving at school, the suspect “immediately pulled the pistol out of his bag” and shot the school’s security guard, Belgrade’s police chief Veselin Milić.
“He then he went to the on-duty staff member and sat down at his desk like he did nothing wrong. There was one girl at her desk, another at the piano. He took their lives.”
The suspect then walked towards a history classroom, shooting as he moved down the corridor, before entering the room and shooting the teacher and his fellow students from the doorway, Milić said.
“He left the classroom, went out into the schoolyard, releasing the magazine from the weapon, throwing it down the steps.” The suspect called the police himself and waited until he was arrested in the yard, officials said.
Seven girls and one boy were killed, Milić said. A further six children and one teacher have been hospitalized, according to Serbia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The teenage suspect was a student at the school, authorities said.
He had two guns in his possession, the Serbian interior minister added at a press conference.
“The parent had several pieces of weapon and kept them locked up. The safe had a code. Obviously the kid had the code as soon as he managed to get hold of those two guns. And three frames full of 15 bullets each,” Bratislav Gasic said.
Separately, Milić said the boy had a 9mm pistol as well as a small calibre pistol in a bag, as well as four Molotov cocktails.
The alleged shooter was filmed being taken from the school in handcuffs with a jacket over his head and wearing blue, skinny jeans.
The father of the suspect was arrested on Wednesday. Gasic said it was known that the father had previously gone to a shooting range with his son.
As news broke, a crowd of anxious parents gathered outside the school.
“My child is still in shock, full of adrenaline, we haven’t been able to calm her down,” a mother of one child told CNN affiliate N1.
Another father recounted a chaotic morning. “I was heading to the bank, and I saw a bunch of police. That was around 8:50. I came running. I saw the school psychologist, I saw the school staff, the teachers who were in shock,” the father told N1.
“The police came quickly, from what I could see. I asked: ‘Where’s my kid?’ And allegedly, one man said that the history teacher was shot. I went back to my apartment to look at my child’s schedule, and she was actually in history class. I took my wife with me and we went back out on the street,” he said.
“I saw that the security guard was lying under a table … I went through the door looking for an attendant. I didn’t know what to do. I asked ‘Where’s my kid?’ and no one was saying anything,” the father said. The man later learned that his daughter had escaped unharmed.
Three days of mourning have been declared and other European countries have sent their condolences.
Serbia, a southern European country of nearly 7 million people, has more than 2,700,000 guns in private ownership – a huge ratio that is a legacy of years of conflict in the 1990s.
Only 44% of those guns are officially registered, according to a 2018 analysis by the Small Arms Survey.
This means there are 39 guns for every 100 Serbians, the data project at the Geneva Graduate Institute found. It is the highest level of civilian gun ownership in Europe, and the fifth-highest in the world. More than 1.5 million guns that people in Serbia own are unregistered, data shows.
And yet shootings of this kind are comparatively rare, due in large part to the country’s strict gun laws and amnesties for owners who hand in or register illegal firearms, according to Reuters.