Suspect arrested after second mass shooting in Serbia
After the second mass shooting in Serbia in a single week, which left eight dead and 14 injured, a man has been arrested.
The shooting began shortly after midnight in a village about 60km (37 miles) south of Belgrade. The shooter fired from a car moving at the time.
The interior ministry reported that he was arrested early on Friday morning, after an “extensive search”.
It comes after a boy killed nine people at a Belgrade school on Wednesday, Serbia’s worst shooting in years.
The police announced Friday’s arrest at 08:40 local (07:40 BST). Interior ministry reports that the suspect, who was only identified by his initials UB, was arrested near Kragujevac.
The arrest followed an extensive manhunt, which local media reported involved over 600 police officers. Early on Friday morning, Serbian media said that special police forces had arrived at the villages of Mladenovac and Dubona, where the latest shooting occurred.
In photos taken on the scene, police officers stopped cars at checkpoints to try and find the gunman. Multiple police patrols, a helicopter, drones, and other tools were used.
Reports on local media say the suspect – who the interior ministry said was born in 2002 – started firing at people with an automatic weapon after having an argument with a police officer in a park in Dubona on Thursday evening.
Milan Prokić, a Dubona resident, told Radio Belgrade 1 he heard shots near his house: “It’s sad, regrettable, we locked ourselves in our home so [the shots] wouldn’t come to us.”
The man is then said to have proceeded to shoot people from a car, killing at least eight people and wounding many more.
All injured people admitted to the hospital were born after the year 2000, Serbian broadcaster RTS has reported.
Two people aged 21 and 23 were operated on, but remain in critical condition.
Speaking at a news conference after the attack on Friday, Serbia’s president called the shooting “an attack on us all” and announced a host of new security measures, including a plan to hire 1,200 new police officers.
Aleksander Vucic also announced a ban on new gun permits, tougher penalties for illegal weapons possession, and phycological checks of gun owners. He said the new laws would result in the “practical disarmament” of Serbia.
Announcing a ban on new gun permits and tougher penalties for illegal weapons possession at a news conference, President Aleksander Vucic said the new laws would result in the “practical disarmament” of Serbia.
On Wednesday, a thirteen-year-old boy shot dead eight fellow pupils at his school in Belgrade, as well as a security guard. It prompted the Serbian government to propose tighter restrictions on gun ownership.
NBA basketball player Luka Doncic said he would pay for the funerals of all nine people killed in Wednesday’s shooting, and for grief counseling for classmates and staff.
Mass shootings are extremely rare in Serbia, which has very strict gun laws, but gun ownership in the country is among the highest in Europe.
The western Balkans are awash with illegal weapons following wars and unrest in the 1990s. In 2019, it was estimated that there are 39.1 firearms per 100 people in Serbia – the third highest in the world, behind the US and Montenegro.