Police seek motive behind Czech Republic's worst killing as the country mourns

A national day of mourning has been declared for Saturday in the Czech Republic after a student at Charles University attacked his fellow students.

Police are searching for a motive behind the Czech Republic’s worst-ever mass killing as national mourning began across the country.

At least 14 people were killed and 25 injured on Thursday evening when a student at Charles University in Prague opened fire on his classmates.

Prague police confirmed the gunman died at the scene and has said the attack was not terror-related but authorities have not released the suspect’s name.

There was still a heavy police presence of Friday moring. / Credit: AP

The building where the shooting took place is in Jan Palach Square, a busy tourist area in Prague’s Old Town.

It is close to the Old Town Square, a major tourist attraction where a popular Christmas market attracts thousands of visitors.

The Czech government declared Saturday a national day of mourning to honour the shooting victims, Prime Minister Petr Fiala said.

President Petr Pavel appealed for unity and urged people to avoid using the killings as an opportunity to launch political attacks or spread misinformation.

Mr Pavel expressed his “great sadness” and “helpless anger at the totally unnecessary” loss of life.

Mourners have been seen gathering near the university laying flowers and candles expressing their grief.

People have been laying flowers and lighting candles since the attack. / Credit: AP

Prague Police Chief Martin Vondrasek said police believe the gunman killed his father earlier Thursday in his hometown of Hostoun, just west of Prague, and that he had also been planning to kill himself.

He also said based on a search of his home, the gunman was also suspected in the killing of another man and his two-month-old daughter on December 15 in Prague.

The chief described the gunman as an excellent student with no criminal record, but didn’t provide any other information.

Police gave no details about the victims or a possible motive for the shooting but said they were investigating.

Police said the gun suffered “devastating injuries” but it was not yet determined if these were self-inflicted or caused during a shoot-out with officers.

The suspect legally owned several guns — police said he was heavily armed Thursday and was carrying a lot of ammunition — and that what he did was “well thought out, a horrible act,” Mr Vondrasek said.

Previously, the nation’s worst mass shooting was in 2015, when a gunman opened fire in the southeastern town of Uhersky Brod, killing eight before fatally shooting himself.

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