A lone gunman opened fire at Prague’s Charles University on December 21st, killing 14 people in what is being called the deadliest shooting in the modern history of the Czech Republic. The shooting has shocked the nation and prompted an outpouring of grief as more details emerge about the victims and shooter.
Shooting Spree Targets Medical, Law, and Arts Faculties
The shooting took place just after noon in several parts of the university’s main campus, including the Faculty of Law, Faculty of Arts, and First Faculty of Medicine. Police said the gunman, identified as 42-year-old David Kozak, was armed with two handguns and had no criminal record or mental health issues.
Kozak specifically targeted several professors and administrators at the university before fatally shooting himself as police closed in. Among the dead was Pavel Jiruska, the long-time director of the Institute of History of Charles University. Also killed was world-renowned ethicist Blanka Klimova of the First Faculty of Medicine.
The shooter’s motive remains unclear, though police are investigating possible links to the 2017 death of Kozak’s father as well as a recent homicide.
Police & Eyewitnesses Describe Chaotic Scene
Police described a frightening scene as the shooter moved through the historic campus, with students barricading themselves in rooms and fleeing in panic.
“He went silent, and we all stopped breathing and just waited for any sound to identify where he might be,” said Tereza Molnar, a law student who hid with 15 other students in a small office.
Body camera footage released by police shows tense moments as officers swept through the neo-Renaissance style buildings searching for the shooter. “He’s in the lobby!” one officer shouts before a barrage of gunfire erupts.
In one chilling video, reporter Briana Lastra is heard screaming “Shoot here!” to divert the killer’s attention away from fleeing students. Lastra was unharmed.
| Deadliest Mass Shootings in Czech History |
| 2022 Prague University Shooting | 14 dead |
| 2015 Uhersky Brod Shooting | 8 dead |
| 2019 Ostrava Hospital Shooting | 7 dead |
Shooter Had Killed Before Launching Attack
Police revealed that just hours before the shooting spree, Kozak had shot and killed a 42-year-old man along with his toddler son in a forest outside Prague. The bodies were discovered after the university attack. Authorities believe the earlier victims were connected to Kozak through his father’s 2017 death, possibly revealing a long-planned revenge plot.
Records show Kozak graduated at the top of his high school class before studying information science at a Prague university. Former classmates described him as lonely and isolated despite his intelligence.
On an internet forum using the pseudonym Glados, Kozak often wrote misogynistic rants and appeared obsessed with school shootings. His last post contained only two words – “It begins”.
Nation Mourns as Victims’ Stories Emerge
As Prague held a candlelight vigil for the shooting victims, heartbreaking details emerged about those killed.
Jiruska, the slain history professor, was known as a kind mentor to generations of students. His daughter spoke of her father’s passion for education and deep care for his pupils.
Ethicist Blanka Klimova was a rising star in her field who had taught at Oxford and written extensively about medical ethics. Colleagues praised her brilliant mind and willingness to take unpopular stances in debates. She leaves behind a husband and 8-year-old son.
Other victims included two foreign exchange students from France and Spain, a beloved cafeteria worker, and a renowned art professor specializing in 20th century Czech painters.
“The professors killed were the pillar of the university,” said Prague Rector Vaclav Havel. “It will take years to heal from this savage blow.”
Shooting Prompts Calls for Tighter Gun Laws
The deadly attack immediately reignited calls for tighter gun laws in the Czech Republic, which has relatively lax ownership statutes compared to most European nations. While licensed gun possession requires a clean criminal record and other restrictions, illegal weapons remain common – a possible factor behind rising violent crime rates.
However, the political will for reform remains uncertain in the Eastern European nation of 10 million. “This tragedy cannot be used to punish lawful owners,” said Jan Barta, head of a 130,000 member firearm owners group. He noted that the university shooter appears to have used illegally obtained guns.
Nevertheless, over 200,000 Czech citizens have signed petitions urging Parliament to pass more restrictive gun control and storage laws long stalled in legislative debates. Anti-gun activists have planned large marches in Prague and other major cities this weekend to draw further attention to the issue.
“If we cannot protect students sitting in class, then where can we protect people?” asked Charles University Rector Vaclav Havel in an emotional appeal. “Our leaders must take action so that the screams from yesterday at our beloved school are never heard again.”
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