Parents of victims and classmates targeted in Serbian school shooting by pupil, 13, mass for candlelit vigil as prosecutors reveal he cannot be held criminally responsible because he is too young
- Eight children and guard have been killed in a shooting at a school in Belgrade
- The suspect, named as Kosta Kecmanovic, 13, was arrested in the school yard
The parents and classmates of those killed in a mass shooting carried out by a 13-year-old boy at a school in Serbia have held a candlelit vigil this evening, as it was revealed he may not face criminal sanctions because he is too young.
Kosta Kecmanovic, 13, identified by police as the suspected shooter, opened fire in his classroom at a Belgrade school this morning, Serbian police said.
He has been arrested for killing eight children and a security guard but it is feared the death toll could rise, with at least seven others injured.
On Wednesday night hundreds of people massed in Belgrade in memory of those killed as they lay flowers, left teddy bears and lit candles in their grief.
The baby-faced teenager, who may not be legally responsible for his actions due to being under the age of 14, was arrested in the Vladislav Ribnikar primary school yard and led away with his face covered after he called police himself.
Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vučić said on Wednesday night that both the boy’s parents have been arrested, and that he is to be taken to a psychiatric institution.
Relatives and classmates of those killed in the attack gathered outside the Serbian school after a 13-year-old boy is said to have opened fire, killing at least nine people
Those in attendance lit candles and laid flowers in memory of those killed
Kosta Kecmanovic, 13, has been identified by Serbian police as the suspected shooter
The shooter drew up plans for the massacre over a month, making sketches of classrooms which looked like a ‘horror movie’, Belgrade’s police chief, Veselin Milic, revealed.
He was armed with two guns and two petrol bombs and had planned everything meticulously, even compiling a list with the names of children he wanted to kill and their classes, according to Milic.
Terrified students hid under their desks amid ‘non-stop shooting’ at around 8.40am this morning. Kecmanovic then called police himself when the depraved attack was over.
At least eight children and a security guard were killed in the gun rampage and there are fears that the death toll could rise even further, with some sustaining life-threatening injuries.
Seven people were injured, including a teacher, who reports have said is fighting for their life.
The shooter first killed a guard at the school in central Belgrade and then three students in a hallway, police said.
He then entered a classroom – reportedly choosing it simply because it was close to the entrance – and opened fire again.
Body bags were later seen being brought out of the school to a van outside.
According to Serbian legal provisions, the 13-year-old boy ‘is deemed criminally irresponsible, because he has not reached the age of 14’, local media has reported.
The boy’s father has been detained on suspicion of aggravated endangering of the public safety, it said.
Hundreds of people gathered at the highly emotional event in Belgrade, Serbia
A group of young boys hold candles as they attend the vigil for the eight students and security guard killed in the attack
Many of those who gathered on Wednesday night were classmates of those shot
Police officers escort a minor, a seventh grade student who is suspected of firing several shots at the Vladislav Ribnikar primary school in Belgrade
Gun ownership is widespread in Serbia, which has witnessed several mass shootings over the past decade, and President Aleksandar Vucic said checks would be stepped up.
As Serbia prepares for three days of national mourning, Vucic announced a moratorium on new gun licenses other than for hunting, revision of existing permits and surveillance of shooting ranges and how civilians store their weapons. School shootings are rare.
The shooter, who gave himself up to police and at 13 is below Serbia’s age of criminal responsibility, will be placed in a psychiatric institution, Vucic told reporters, adding that both his father and mother had been arrested.
‘He was waiting for this day. He was at the shooting range with his father three times,’ Vucic said. The boy had asked for a transfer to another class where he had three friends, he said.
A drawing by the alleged shooter, which was shown to reporters, looked like ‘something from a video game or a horror movie,’ Milic said, ‘which indicates that he planned in detail, by classes, whom to liquidate.’
Most students were able to flee through a back door, according to a local official.
Milan Milosevic, a father of one of the pupils, said his daughter was in the history class where the shooter opened fire ‘randomly’ at other children as they cowered under their desks.
‘She managed to escape,’ the father told Serbian TV station N1.
‘He [the shooter] fired first at the teacher and then the children who ducked under the desks,’ Milosevic quoted his daughter as saying.
‘They say he [the shooter] was quiet and a good pupil. He recently joined their class.’
Mr Milosevic said that he rushed out to the school when he heard what had happened.
‘I asked where is my child but no one could tell me anything at first,’ he said. ‘Then she called and we found out she was out.’
A vigil went on for many hours on Thursday as the local community were left shocked by the violent attack
People leave flowers and and a teddy bear for the victims near the school after news of the shooting broke
As darkness fell in Belgrade on Wednesday, hundreds mourned the tragic loss of life
Eight children and a guard are now believed to have died in a shooting after a 13-year-old boy opened fire in his classroom
The shooter drew sketches of classrooms and wrote a list of children he planned to ‘liquidate’ in the school massacre, police said
The local police chief said that Kecmanovic called police himself when the depraved attack was over
Police received a call about the shooting in the Vladislav Ribnikar primary school at around 8.40am, they said in a statement
Terrified parents rushed to the school in the Vračar neighbourhood in central Belgrade
‘I saw the security guard lying under the table. I saw two girls with blood on their shirts,’ Mr Milosevic added.
Evgenija, 14, said she knew the suspected gunman and described him as ‘somehow silent… [he] appeared nice and had good grades’.
‘[I] did not know much about him, he was not that open to everyone. I would never expect that this could happen,’ she told reporters.
‘I heard noises and I thought some boys, some kids were throwing firecrackers… But then I saw the security guard falling to the ground,’ she said, adding that she then ran away.
A parent breaks down following the massacre in the Serbian capital Belgrade this morning
People embraced outside the Vladislav Ribnikar primary school in Belgrade following the unspeakable tragedy
Family members were reeling as news of the shooting emerged. Serbia has not seen a school shooting of this scale in decades
Fearful relatives rushed to the elementary school and were seen consoling one another in the aftermath of the massacre
Tributes have begun to be lift outside the school to the nine victims of the shooting
Serbia’s Interior Ministry said in an updated statement that eight children and a security guard were killed in the shooting, while six children and one school teacher were wounded.
‘All police forces are still on the ground and are intensively working to shed light on all the facts and circumstances that led to this tragedy.’
A student who was in a sports class downstairs when the gunfire erupted said: ‘I was able to hear the shooting. It was non-stop.’
‘I didn’t know what was happening. We were receiving some messages on the phone.’
The student, who heard the violence unfold, identified only by her initials, E.M. because of her age, described the suspect as a ‘quiet guy’ who ‘looked nice.’
‘He was having good grades, but we didn’t know much about him,’ the student added. ‘He was not so open with everybody. Surely I wasn’t expecting this to happen. ‘
Milan Nedeljkovic, mayor of the central Vracar district where the school is located, said doctors were fighting to save a teacher’s life.
Mr Nedeljkovic said the school’s security guard likely prevented more deaths by putting himself in front of the shooter.
The guard ‘wanted to prevent the tragedy and he was the first victim,’ Nedeljkovic told reporters told journalists live on television outside the school.
‘I saw kids running out from the school, screaming. Parents came, they were in panic. Later I heard three shots,’ a girl who attends a high school adjacent to Vladislav Ribnikar told state TV RTS.
Police sealed off the blocks around the school, in the center of Belgrade.
Officers in helmets and bulletproof vests cordoned off the area around the school, which is in the Vračar neighbourhood in central Belgrade.
‘I saw kids running out from the school, screaming. Parents came, they were in panic. Later I heard three shots,’ a girl who attends a school adjacent to Vladislav Ribnikar (pictured) told state TV
Police have blocked the street around the Vladislav Ribnikar school in Belgrade, Serbia
A row of ambulances were pictured parked on Kralja Milutin Street outside the school, the area around which was cordoned off
The shooting has rocked the Balkan state, which has not seen a mass shooting in a decade
Terrified parents rushed to the school in the central district of Belgrade to hear news of their children
Police sealed off the blocks around the Vladislav Ribnikar school, in the center of Belgrade
Local media footage from the scene showed commotion outside the school as police removed the suspect, whose head was covered as officers led him to a car parked in the street.
An investigation into the motives behind the shooting is under way.
Serbia’s Interior Ministry said in a statement: ‘The police sent all available patrols immediately to the spot and arrested a suspected minor – a seventh grade student who is suspected of firing several shots from his father’s gun in the direction of students and school security.’
Vračar is a wealthy area of the city and a number of embassies are based there.
A row of ambulances were pictured parked on Kralja Milutin Street outside.
Police sealed off the blocks surrounding the school. Primary schools in Serbia have eight grades.
Mass shootings in the country are extremely rare. In the last mass shooting, a Balkan war veteran in 2013 killed 13 people in a central Serbian village.
Experts, however, have repeatedly warned of the number of weapons left over in the country after the wars of the 1990s.
The western Balkans are awash with hundreds of thousands of illegal weapons following the unrest there.
Serbian authorities have offered several amnesties for owners to hand in or register illegal guns.
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