Prague, Czech Republic – Six people have been killed in a shooting at a Czech teaching hospital in the north-eastern city of Ostrava on Tuesday morning. After fleeing the scene, the 42-year-old gunman apparently shot himself in the head.
According to reports, the shooting took place at a traumatology clinic. Part of the hospital has been locked down. The police do not yet know the man’s motive but personal reasons are being speculated about. The six victims were patients in the hospital and were apparently shot at close range.
Prime Minister Andrej Babis confirmed that six people had been killed and that the shootings occurred in a hospital waiting room. “There were four dead and two injured people, who unfortunately died too,” he told Czech media. Another two people have been injured, according to latest police information.
Czech Radio identified the suspect as a local construction technician who was on medical leave, according to the director of the firm he worked in.
President Milos Zeman expressed his deepest condolences to the survivors and Ivo Vondrak, the governor of the Moravian-Silesian Region, said the shooting was “a great tragedy”.
The police immediately started a search for the perpetrator assisted by two police helicopters. They posted an image of a man, described as a witness, they said they needed to trace.
They also asked the public for help but urged citizens not attempt to confront the suspect and call 158 immediately if spotted as he was believed to be dangerous and probably armed. The suspect used a “short handgun”, according to police.
They also stepped up patrols at what they described as soft targets, such as schools, shopping centres and other hospitals.
Gun attacks in the Czech Republic are rare but gun ownership is high for Europe because of the popularity of hunting.
Last week, the Court of Justice of the European Union dismissed the Czech Republic’s case against an EU directive on firearms it said overstepped its prerogatives and unlawfully restricted the rights of firearms owners. Under pressure from shooting associations and hunters’ lobbies, the Czech government had filed a lawsuit against the directive two years ago.
The latest shooting is the worst in the Czech Republic since a man shot eight people dead at a restaurant in Uhersky Brod in 2015.
Ostrava is the third largest city in the Czech Republic, located around 300 kilometres east of Prague near the borders of Poland and Slovakia.