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Tragedy struck Belgrade on Wednesday when a 13-year-old student opened fire on his schoolmates, killing 8 children and 1 school guard. 4 Molotov Cocktails were allegedly also found in his backpack.
The tragedy left 9 dead, including 8 students. 6 other students and a teacher are seriously injured. Witnesses described hearing gunshots and seeing children fleeing from the school in terror.
The teenager identified as Kosta Kecmanović is an 8th grader at the Vladislav Ribnikar school in Belgrade. He was described as a calm student, with high grades, and a special interest in history, who never exhibited any behavioral issues. The police don’t yet know the reason for the attack, however, they stated it was premeditated. The shooter creating a “kill list” weeks before the shooting.
According to witnesses, Kecmanović argued with the guard at the entrance, whom he shot and killed on the spot. He then proceeded to enter the school and met three girls. After killing them as well, he walked toward his class, where a history lesson was taking place. His main target seems to have been his history professor. After shooting her, he randomly shot at his classmates.
Authorities said the weapons used in the school shooting belonged to the boy’s father. Both of his parents are doctors and they have been arrested by authorities. According to Minister of Police Bratislav Gašić, "The father claims that they were locked in the safe under a code, but obviously the child had the code to that safe, in addition to the two pistols, three more frames full of bullets were found. Unofficially, together with his father, he went to shooting ranges, practicing shooting. In any case, against the father will be taken the measures provided for by the law."
The shooter is in custody in a psychiatric clinic, but he cannot be criminally prosecuted because he’s under the age of 14. Minister of Health, Dr. Danica Grujicic, told the media, ""One girl is in critical condition, everything that could be done has been done, we are still fighting for her life. There are three children in the Emergency Center. This is the worst thing that has happened in my career. We can only wish that children recover quickly. The Institute for Mental Health will announce two lines which people struggling with mental problems will be able to call."
President Aleksandar Vučić called this "the most difficult day in the modern history of our country." In discussing the causes of the tragedy the President cited mental health issues related to the use of social media. "They don't watch, they are on the Internet all day. Let's not all turn a blind eye and pretend to be naive," the President explained. "From the scheme drawn by the boy, you can see that he was playing some kind of game. In those games, they have more lives. You can see that he has no remorse, that he does not understand what he did because he thought that he had become a hero for some of them on social media."
The President also declared a three-day national mourning period beginning on Friday to honor the victims. The victims were seven girls and one boy, with four boys and two girls sustaining injuries and are currently in the hospital. The severity of the injuries ranged from a boy with gunshot wounds to the neck and chest to a girl with a head injury in critical condition.