Six dead in shooting at Czech hospital

By Karel Janicek, Associated Press

A man with an illegal gun has shot dead six people and wounded three others at a hospital in the eastern Czech Republic, the prime minister and officials said.

The gunman later killed himself as police approached his car.

Prime minister Andrej Babis told public television the shooting took place at around 7am in a hospital waiting room, with the attacker opening fire at people’s heads from close range.

The prime minister cancelled an official visit to Estonia and headed to the scene of the shooting at the University hospital in the eastern city of Ostrava.

“It’s a huge tragedy,” Mr Babis said later. “It’s an unfortunate, individual act.”

He said the suspect had been treated in the hospital, but did not offer details.

“Nobody understands why the attacker was so ruthless,” he added.

Interior minister Jan Hamacek said police found the suspect’s car and he shot himself in the head as they approached and died from his injuries about half an hour later.

Mr Hamacek said police will be investigating his motive, and added: “I’d like to assure the public that there’s no danger any more.”

Police personnel and paramedics outside the hospital (Jaroslav Ozana/CTK/AP)

Police identified the attacker as a 42-year-old man. Several hundred police officers had launched an extensive manhunt using two helicopters.

Regional police chief Tomas Kuzel said the suspect used an illegally held Czech-made 9mm gun. He said officers believe the suspect, who had a criminal record, acted alone.

Police published a photo of the suspect, having withdrawn an earlier photo of a different man. They said that man was now considered to be a witness.

Clinic director Jiri Havrlant told media the dead were four men and two women. Another man and a woman had to be operated on, while one person had less serious wounds.

All the victims were adult patients waiting for treatment.

The nation will honour them with sirens being sounded across the country on December 17, Mr Babis said.

It was the second-largest number of Czechs killed in a mass shooting, after a man opened fire in the south-eastern town of Uhersky Brod, killing eight before he shot himself in 2015.