Who is David Kozák? Prague university gunman who killed 14 in Czech Republic’s worst mass shooting

Authorities confirmed the killer was student at Charles University and that his father was found dead earlier in the day

Athena Stavrou,Holly Evans
Friday 22 December 2023 09:34 GMT
British honeymooners told to stay indoors during Prague shooting

The identity of the gunman who opened fire at a Prague university on Thursday killing 14 people has been revealed.

Student David Kozák opened fire on the fourth floor of Charles University in Jan Palach Square shortly after 3pm, with chilling images appearing of the shooter dressed in black, taking aim from a balcony with a large gun.

Police raced to the scene and evacuated students and tourists near the building in the city centre, with Kozak’s body found a short while later with “devastating injuries”. It is not yet clear how he died.

David Kozák has been named as the shooter who opened fire at a Prague university (Czech Police)

Authorities have confirmed that the 24 year-old was a history student at the university and that he acted alone.

He is believed to have been inspired by a school shooting carried out by 14-year-old schoolgirl in Russia earlier this month, and wrote on Telegram: “I want to do a school shooting and possibly suicide.”

Police are also investigating his potential involvement in the murder of a father and baby daughter in a woodland area last week, which is believed to have been a random attack.

Earlier on the day of the university shooting, Kozák’s father was found dead in the town of Hostoun.

Mourners laying candles outside Charles University (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Here’s everything we know about the shooter so far:

What has happened?

Czech police said shortly after 3pm that they were responding to a shooting at Charles University’s faculty of arts building in central Prague. An email sent to staff and students at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University had said a shooter was in one of its buildings and had told staff to “stay put”.

Crowds of people ran from the square while eight terrified students were seen precariously hiding on a ledge to hide from the gunman.

Armed police are seen on the balcony of the university in central Prague (AFP via Getty Images)

The square was sealed off with people urged to leave the surrounding streets and stay inside.

Prague’s rescue service confirmed that 15 people had died, including the killer, and that at least 30 others suffered various injuries, including nine with serious ones.

Who is the gunman?

The identity of the gunman has now been revealed to be student David Kozák, who had reportedly been studying for a masters degree in world history with a special focus on the history of Poland.

Local media have reported that Kozák originally graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history and was described as an excellent student with no previous criminal convictions.

Eight students seen hiding on a building ledge to escape the gunman (Supplied)

His father’s body had been found earlier in the day in his hometown of Hostoun. Police were already searching for Kozák at the time of the mass shooting in relation to another death in the village of Kladensko.

He is suspected of being responsible for the murders of a father and his two-month-old baby daughter, who were killed in a forest on 15 December.

At a press conference, police spokesperson Martin Vondráček said: “We are working very seriously with the fact that the attacker from the Faculty of Philosophy is also responsible for the two victims from the end of last week in Klanovicky les.”

What have police said?

Police chiefs have confirmed the gunman was a student at the faculty of arts at Charles University in Jan Palach Square, and have said there is no evidence to suggest he had an accomplice.

They also said the father of the shooter was found dead on Thursday morning, and that Kozák was also under suspicion for the random murders of a father and baby girl last week.

Lights from emergency service vehicles light the scene of the shooting (EPA)

No details have emerged yet of the victims killed in the shooting, although the interior minister Vit Rakusan has confirmed that three are foreign nationals and investigators do not a suspect a link to any extremist ideology or groups.

Do we know what led to the attack?

The gunman’s motives for the attack or not yet known, but police were reportedly already searching for Kozak at the time of the incident.

Authorities are probing the potential connection between a series of violent, expletive-laden Russian-language messages posted on Telegram, including a message posted by the shooter saying: “I always wanted to kill. I thought I would be a maniac in the future.”

An ambulance drives towards the building of Philosophical Faculty of Charles University in Prague (AP)

One of the messages posted by the user indicated that inspiration for the attack may have been drawn from two previous mass shootings in Russia—one occurring this month at a school in Bryansk near the Ukraine border, and the second in 2021 in Kazan, the capital of the Russian region of Tatarstan.

“I was very inspired by Alina … very much,” a message shared on 10 December said, just three days after a 14-year-old Russian girl, Alina Afanaskina, opened fire on her classmates.

Gun crime is relatively rare in the Czech Republic. In December 2019, a 42-year-old gunman killed six people at a hospital waiting room in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava before fleeing and fatally shooting himself, police said.

In 2015, a man fatally shot eight people and then killed himself at a restaurant in Uhersky Brod.

It is not thought that Kozak was linked to any extremist ideology or groups.

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