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In Rare Mass Shooting, Serbian Teen Kills Eight Students, Guard

A 13-year-old who opened fire Wednesday at his school in Serbia’s capital drew sketches of classrooms and made a list of children he intended to target in a meticulously planned attack, police said. He killed eight fellow students and a guard before calling the police and being arrested. According to police official Veselin Milic, the shooter killed a school guard and then three students in a hallway of the Vladislav Ribnikar school in central Belgrade before entering a history classroom and opening fire again. Seven girls and one boy were killed, he said. Six children and a teacher were also hospitalized. Two children remained in serious condition after hourslong surgeries, according to the Associated Press. “The child who committed the crime said when he called the police that he shot some people in the school and that … he is a psychopath who needs to calm down,” Milic told state television station RTS. “He said that after committing (the crime) he was caught by fear and panic and funny breathing and that it was the right thing to call the police and report the event.” Authorities did not know a motive for the shooting. It was unclear if he shot any of the students whom he named on his list. The shooter identified by police was 13-year-old Kosta Kecmanovic.

During the shooting, Kecmanovic carried two guns belonging to his father, at least one handgun, and four Molotov cocktails. Interior Minister Bratislav Gasic said the weapons were licensed and kept in a safe but that the teen apparently knew the code. The father was arrested. It’s not clear how many rounds were fired, but police said the shooter reloaded the handgun. Populist President Aleksandar Vucic said the shooter was taken to a psychiatric clinic and that the police also detained the teenager’s mother. He listed a set of proposed measures to improve gun control, tighten media and internet restrictions for violent content and conduct drug tests in schools. While such attacks are rare in Serbia, with the last similar shooting in 2013, experts have repeatedly warned of the danger posed by the number of weapons in a highly divided country, where convicted war criminals are glorified and violence against minority groups often goes unpunished. They also note that decades of instability stemming from the conflicts of the 1990s as well as ongoing economic hardship could trigger such outbursts. Education Minister Branko Ruzic was quick to blame “the cancerous, pernicious influence of the internet, video games, so-called Western values.” Such criticism is common in Serbia, where pro-Russian and anti-Western sentiments have thrived.


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