At least 14 killed in Prague university shooting

By Adrienne Vogt, Elise Hammond and Matt Meyer, CNN

Updated 2305 GMT (0705 HKT) December 21, 2023
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5:59 p.m. ET, December 21, 2023

What we know so far about the mass shooting at a university in central Prague

From CNN staff

A gunman is dead after killing at least 14 people and wounding many others in a shooting rampage Thursday at a central Prague university, according to Czech police.

The attack at Charles University came after authorities received some prior warning about a student at the school, according to the country's head of police, though an investigation into key details of the shooting is just beginning.

Here's what we know so far:

  • The attack had a devastating toll: At least 14 people were killed and 25 others wounded, according to the latest update provided by police. Authorities revised the number of those killed and hurt in the attack as their investigation unfolded and victims received treatment at hospitals. At least 10 of those wounded are in serious condition, officials said. The victims were gunned down at Charles University, located in the busy tourist center of Prague.
  • The shooter is dead: Early reports indicate the shooter took his own life after the attack, but that is not yet confirmed, Czech Police President Martin Vondrášek said in a news conference. The shooter has not been formally identified because of the severity of his injuries, the police chief said, but investigators believe they know his identity. The suspect is a 24-year-old philosophy student at the school who had a gun permit and several weapons, Vondrášek said.
  • Police were tipped off about the suspect: Authorities received a tip saying the suspect was traveling from his hometown of Hostouň to Prague intending to take his own life, police said. Shortly after that, they learned that a man believed to be the suspect's father was found dead in Hostouň, which is about 100 miles from the Czech capital.
  • Officials had evacuated a different school building: Police were aware the suspected shooter had a lecture at 2 p.m. CET (8 a.m. ET) Thursday and had evacuated the building where the lecture was meant to take place, Vondrášek said. But then police received a call about a shooting in a different building on campus, according to the police chief.
  • Students scrambled to escape the gunfire: Police said it took time to help students safely evacuate after the shooting, as some had locked themselves in classrooms. A group of students climbed out of a classroom window and hid on the ledge of the university's Faculty of Arts building in an attempt to escape, a photo on social media showed.
  • Officials expressed shock at the violence: Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala expressed his condolences to the loved ones of the victims and said there was "absolutely no explanation, no justification" for the "senseless attack." He said it was believed to be an isolated incident and not an act of terror or attack by an organized group. Other European leaders also condemned the violence and expressed shock at the attack.
5:17 p.m. ET, December 21, 2023

Czech Republic announces day of mourning for shooting victims

From CNN’s Ivana Kottasová in Prague

People light candles for the shooting victims at the Charles University main office in central Prague, on December 21.
People light candles for the shooting victims at the Charles University main office in central Prague, on December 21. Michal Cizek/AFP/Getty Images

The Czech Republic will observe a day of mourning Saturday for those killed in the Prague shooting, officials announced at a joint news conference Thursday.

“I want to express my deep sadness and also helpless anger over the loss of so many young lives,” Czech President Petr Pavel said, adding that the shooting is “the most tragic incident in the history of the Czech Republic.”

During the day of mourning, flags will be flown at half-staff and a minute of silence will be held nationwide.

Bells across the country will toll for the victims of the attack, according to Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala.

5:13 p.m. ET, December 21, 2023

Student says he barricaded himself in a classroom as shooter went on rampage

From CNN's Sharif Paget

Student barricades door as shooter goes on rampage, killing at least 15 in Prague university.
Student barricades door as shooter goes on rampage, killing at least 15 in Prague university. Jakob Weizman

Graduate student Jakob Weizman, 25, told CNN he was in a classroom with his professor when they heard what sounded like gunshots and screams — and then the sounds grew louder. 

"My professor tried to lock the door, but it would not work," Weizman said. Luckily, Weizman managed to finally get the door locked, he said. Moments later, they started pushing classroom furniture up to the door to create a barricade.

"About five minutes after that, someone tried to open the door very violently," Weizman said. He believes it may have been the shooter, but he does not know for sure.

"After I made the barricade and locked the door, I hid under the desk and I was preparing myself for anything that could happen," Weizman added. "I did not know if he was going to come through the door or from the window."

Weizman, who told CNN he lived in the United States for 15 years, never thought he would experience a mass shooting event in Europe.

"You think it will never happen," he said. "I'm still processing a lot."

The graduate student said the police eventually arrived, so he broke down the barricade to let them in. Weizman said he could see blood on each floor as police escorted him down.

3:14 p.m. ET, December 21, 2023

Police revise number of people killed in Prague shooting to 14

From CNN’s Ivana Kottasova in Prague

Czech Republic's Police president Martin Vondrášek speaks to the media in Prague on Thursday.
Czech Republic's Police president Martin Vondrášek speaks to the media in Prague on Thursday. Petr David Josek/AP

Czech police chief Martin Vondrášek updated the number of people killed in a shooting at Charles University in central Prague, saying the 14 died and 25 others were injured. 

Vondrášek had previously said that at least 15 people had died.

He said that of the 25 injured, 10 were in a serious condition.

The police chief updated the numbers while speaking at a press conference on Thursday evening.

1:57 p.m. ET, December 21, 2023

No justification for "senseless attack" at Prague university, Czech prime minister says

From CNN’s Ivana Kottasova in Prague 

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala speaks during a press conference in Prague on Thursday.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala speaks during a press conference in Prague on Thursday. Michaela Rihova/CTK/AP

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala expressed his condolences to the loved ones of the victims killed in a shooting at Charles University in Prague on Thursday.

Addressing the nation, he said many young lives were lost in the “senseless attack."

“There is absolutely no explanation, no justification for this. Like many of you, I am feeling a deep sorrow and disgust over this incomprehensible and brutal violence,” Fiala said. 

The prime minister said officials believe it was an isolated incident and was not an act of terror or an attack by an organized group. He also assured people that there is no longer any danger. 

“Dear citizens, please let us think of all those who have lost their loved ones. This Christmas will be unimaginably sad for them. Let us share their sorrow and their pain. At this dark hour, we should come together and respect each other, to show our respect for the victims,” Fiala said.

1:43 p.m. ET, December 21, 2023

Charles University cancels events and tightens security measures after deadly shooting

From CNN’s Catherine Nicholls

A police officer stands next to ambulances parked near the area of the shooting at Charles University in Prague on Thursday.
A police officer stands next to ambulances parked near the area of the shooting at Charles University in Prague on Thursday. David W Cerny/Reuters

All events have been canceled at Charles University in Prague on Thursday and Friday as tighter security measures go into effect following a deadly shooting on its campus.

“We now ask everyone to try to remain calm and composed, and we again extend our condolences to all those whose hearts have been broken by the loss of loved ones,” a statement released by the university said on Thursday.

At least 15 people were killed and dozens of others were wounded, according to Czech police. The university said it is also offering psychological help to those who need it. 

“We mourn the loss of life of members of our university community, express our deepest condolences to all the bereaved and our thoughts are with all those affected by the tragedy,” the university said.

1:03 p.m. ET, December 21, 2023

European leaders express sadness and shock after deadly Prague university shooting

From CNN's Catherine Nicholls, Sharon Braithwaite and Joseph Ataman

European leaders are condemning violence and expressing their shock after a shooter killed 15 people at a university in Prague on Thursday, saying they are sending condolences to those killed and injured.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni reiterated condemnation of "all forms of violence, fanaticism and terrorism," according to a post on X, formerly Twitter.

"Europe has the duty to react and strengthen every useful tool to ensure maximum security for its citizens," Meloni said.

Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen said in a post he is "deeply shocked by the cruel attack" in Prague and his thoughts are with those in the Czech Republic.

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said his country "stands with the people of the Czech Republic during these difficult times," adding he was "appalled by the shooting" and offered thoughts to the families of those killed.

French President Emmanuel Macron expressed the "strong emotion" he felt when he learned that the shooting took place at Charles University.

"I express my solidarity with the victims, the wounded and their loved ones, as well as with the Czech people and authorities," he said in a post.

1:02 p.m. ET, December 21, 2023

Suspected shooter had a gun permit, according to Czech police chief

From CNN’s Ivana Kottasova in Prague 

The man suspected of killing at least 15 people at Charles University in Prague had a gun permit and owned several weapons, according to Czech Police President Martin Vondrášek.

Police previously said they have not formally identified the deceased shooter due to the severity of their injuries, but that they are suspected to be a 24-year-old student at the school.

About gun regulations in the Czech Republic: The country has relatively liberal gun laws compared to the rest of the European Union. To obtain a gun legally, a person needs an official firearm license, which requires a medical examination, a weapon proficiency exam and no previous criminal record. 


According to official police statistics, more than 300,000 people have legal permit to own a gun. As of 2022, almost 1 million legally owned weapons were officially registered in the Czech Republic.

12:57 p.m. ET, December 21, 2023

Police say they received tips about a 24-year-old student believed to be the university shooter

From CNN’s Ivana Kottasova in Prague and Jessie Gretener in London

Czech police President Martin Vondrášek is seen at a press conference on Thursday.
Czech police President Martin Vondrášek is seen at a press conference on Thursday. Katerina Sulova/CTK/AP

Authorities received tips about a 24-year-old philosophy student at Charles University who they suspect was responsible for the deadly mass shooting at the campus in central Prague Thursday, Czech Police President Martin Vondrášek said in a news conference.

The police chief said the information he has received so far indicates that the shooter took his own life after the attack, but that this is not yet confirmed. He said the suspect has not been formally identified because of the severity of his injuries.

Police evacuated building where suspect had lecture scheduled: The police chief said authorities had information about the student prior to the incident, saying they received a tip saying he was traveling from his hometown of Hostouň to Prague with the intention to take his own life. Shortly after that, they received information that a man believed to be the suspect's father was found dead in Hostouň.

Vondrášek said police were aware the suspected shooter had a lecture at 2 p.m. CET (8 a.m. ET) and had evacuated the building where the lecture was meant to take place.

Police then received a call about a shooting in a different building on campus, according to the police chief.