A gunman opened fire at a restaurant in eastern Czech Republic, killing eight people and wounding one before he fatally shot himself, officials said. It was the worst shooting attack in the country’s history.
The gunman was a local man around age 60, said Patrik Kuncar, mayor of the southeastern town of Uhersky Brod. A waitress from the restaurant was hospitalized, he said.
Interior Minister Milan Chovanec who arrived at the scene said “it was not a terrorist attack.”
Chovanec said the man had a gun licence. Police spokesman Pavel Stransky told The Associated Press the gunman killed eight before killing himself.
The attack shocked the town of 17,000 that lies 300 kilometres southeast of Prague, the capital, and is home to the Ceska Zbrojovka gun plant.
“Nobody believed anything like that could happen in such a small town,” Kuncar said. “I can hardly imagine what consequences it will have for the future life in this town.”
The country’s chief police officer, Tomas Tuhy, said authorities wouldn’t reveal more information in the coming hours because of the ongoing investigation.
Gunman called TV station
Czech public radio said the gunman called a local television station before the attack, complaining that police weren’t solving his problems and threatening that he would “take things into his hands.”
The Czech Republic has strict gun control laws, but hunting is popular in the eastern European nation.
“I am shocked by the tragic attack in Uhersky Brod,” Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said in a statement while on a trip to South Korea. He offered his condolences to the victim’s relatives.
The Czech Republic became an independent nation in 1993 after the split of Czechoslovakia.
Petr Gabriel was in the restaurant’s bathroom when the shooting began.
“That saved my life,” Gabriel told the Czech public television. He spent two hours in the bathroom until he was found by police.