Newlywed British couple urged to stay down amid Prague shooting

Ten were confirmed dead after the shooting at a school in Jan Palach Square in the Czech Republic capital on Thursday.

Ted Hennessey
Thursday 21 December 2023 16:50 GMT
Tom and Rachel in Prague (Tom Leese/PA)
Tom and Rachel in Prague (Tom Leese/PA)

A newlywed British couple have told of the moment a police officer ordered them to stay down during a mass shooting in central Prague.

Ten were confirmed dead after gunfire at a school in Jan Palach Square in the Czech Republic capital on Thursday.

Tom Leese, 34, a video producer and his wife Rachael, 31, an account director, who are on their honeymoon in the country, were having a drink in the Slivovitz Museum, close to where the shooting occurred.

Mr Leese said: “A policeman came in and started shouting loudly in what I assume was Czech.

“I asked for it in English and he said there was an active shooter and to stay inside and stay down.

“The staff were very calm, turned all the lights off very quickly and urged us to stay calm, the restaurant was relatively quiet.

“The policeman left urgently and we stood in the corner of the restaurant.”

The couple, from Merstham in Surrey, were kept in the the museum for over an hour, hearing sirens outside.

Mr Leese added: “Rachael is still in shock.

“We were meant to be having dinner at the restaurant right by the building tonight and were going to pop in for a drink earlier on, but we crossed the bridge instead.

“With everyone else being so calm it didn’t seem real to me.

“We’ve been in touch with all of our families to let them know that we’re safe.

“We obviously can’t wait to get home now.”

Interior Minister Vit Rakusan told public television the gunman was dead.

Police gave no details about the victims or the circumstances of the gunfire.

Dozens more are believed to be wounded.

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