Czech police storm home of gunman who shot dead eight

The 63-year-old shooter called a broadcaster warning he was planning to hurt people

Derek Scally reports from Uhersky Brod in eastern Czech Republic as the small town mourns following a shooting in a local restaurant. Video: Reuters

 

Czech police have stormed the home of a 63 year-old man who killed eight people in an eastern town on Tuesday before shooting himself.

The man was named locally as Zdenek Kovar though police have yet to officially release the identity of him or his victims - seven men and a woman.

After the shooting on Tuesday the gunman’s wife had barricaded herself into the house in Uhersky Brod near the Slovak border.

Czech media reported early this morning that she eventually allowed police in, was brought out to an ambulance and driven away.

As police search the apartment for further weapons, the small community of Uhersky Brod, population 17,000, are gathering this morning for a short memorial service.

“We’re all under shock,” said mayor Patrik Kunca.

Czech investigators said they are still unclear about the motive behind the shooting at the Druzba restaurant shortly after 1pm on Tuesday.

“It is a mystery why he sought out this restaurant,” said state prosecutor Roman Kafka to the CT broadcaster.

An eye-witness describing the attack as “mindless shooting”. Another, who believed he passed the gunman on his way to the toilet, said around 20 people were on the premises at the time.

According to Czech media reports it was this eye-witness who alerted police of the attack from the toilet.

Around 3.30pm riot police broke into the premises and locals reported hearing a “deafening detonation” and further shots.

All the victims - seven men and one woman, the waitress, were said to be local residents. Many other diners were injured in the shooting spree, with at least one woman hospitalised suffering serious chest injuries.

Police said the man then turned his weapons - two handguns - on himself.

Local mayor Patrik Kuncar said the man began “shooting indiscriminately” and that the act was an “isolated incident” with no terrorism links..

“I assume this was an isolated incident, said Mr Kuncar to Czech state television. “I’m rattled by this event. I never would’ve imagined something like this happening here, in a restaurant I know well.”

Minutes before the shooting spree, the gunman phoned a television station minutes to announce his plan.

He told a reporter from the private broadcaster Prisma to send a television crew to the town as something was going to happen.

When the reporter asked for more details, the caller said he was being bullied by people and that the authorities had been no help.

“I’ll sort it myself,” he reportedly told the reporter. He said he was on Marianske Square in the square, that he was armed and was going to harm people.

Police have said the man held a gun licence and was the legal owner of two guns, though it has yet to be confirmed these were the guns used on Tuesday.

The shooting has prompted a debate about the number of arms in circulation in the Czech Republic. According to official figures, Czechs own 761,000 firearms in a population - or one to every 14 Czech citizens.

“There is the question of whether we want so many holders of gun licences in Czech society,” said interior minister Milan Chovanec in a television interview.

Amid speculation about the gunman’s mental health, Mr Chovanec said the investigation would focus on whether he was fit to hold a gun licence.

Police are continuing their investigation into the shooting and are likely to release more details during the day.