Europe

Prague archbishop expresses ‘deep sorrow’ after mass shooting at university

A woman lights a candle in front of the Charles University main building following a shooting at one of the university's buildings in Prague, Dec. 21, 2023 (OSV News photo/David W. Cerny, Reuters)

(OSV News) — Fourteen people were killed and another 25 injured in a Dec. 21 shooting at a university in Prague.

Shots rang out at approximately 3 p.m. local time as a 24-year-old gunman began firing on the campus of Charles University in the city’s historic center. The attack reportedly began at the school’s Faculty of Arts building on Jan Palach Square.

Social media footage showed several individuals huddled on a building ledge to evade being targeted by the unnamed gunman, who was subsequently “eliminated,” police told media.

During a press briefing hours after the attack, officials said the gunman, a resident from a village some 13 miles from Prague, had been a student at the university. His father had been found dead earlier on Dec. 21. No motive for the attack has been disclosed as yet.

President Petr Pavel called the shooting “the most tragic incident in the history of the Czech Republic,” expressing his “deep sadness and also helpless anger over the loss of so many young lives.”

Archbishop Jan Graubner of Prague said he was “deeply saddened” to learn of the shooting.

“I offer my sincere condolences and deep sorrow to the bereaved families of all the victims and assure them of our closeness,” said the archbishop. “I pray for the deceased, their families, relatives and friends, and for the healing of all those injured,” he added.

“I ask the Lord to bring comfort to all during this pre-Christmas season and help us overcome our pain and sorrow,” said Archbishop Graubner. “The priests of the Archdiocese of Prague offer spiritual support and advice to all.”

The university — which was founded in 1348 — has canceled classes and events on Dec. 22 for “religious reasons,” and invited mourners to prayerfully express their grief outside of the rector’s building, making the space “open to all who are looking for a place for remembrance and support in these difficult times.”

The Czech Republic will observe a national day of mourning for the victims on Dec. 23, with flags flown at half-staff, a minute of silence observed and bells tolled across the country, government officials announced.

Gina Christian is a national reporter for OSV News.

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