A 13-year-old boy is suspected of shooting eight of his schoolmates and a school guard, ITV News' Chloe Keedy reports
Police say a teenage boy opened fire in a school in central Belgrade, killing eight children and a school guard.
Six more children and a teacher were hospitalised after Kosta Kecmanovic, a 13-year-old student at the Vladislav Ribnikar school, launched the shooting, police in Serbia said.
The teen drew sketches of classrooms and wrote a list of people he intended to target in a meticulously planned attack, according to officers. Among the students who died were seven girls and one boy.
The victims included a girl with French citizenship, French foreign ministry spokeswoman Anne-Claire Legendre said in a statement. She provided no other details.
Ljiljana Radicevic said her granddaughter was killed in the shooting. Ana was near the school entrance when the assailant shot the school guard, “and then he shot at my Ana,” Ms Radicevic said. “As soon as she did not answer, I knew it was over.” Ms Radicevic did not provide Ana’s full name or age.
The teen first killed a guard and three students in the hallway before entering the nearest classroom where he opened fire again, senior police official Veselin Milic said.
The assailant called police himself when the attack was over, though authorities had already been alerted to the shooting, and he was arrested in the schoolyard.
“The child who committed the crime said when he called the police that he shot some people in the school and that … he is a psychopath who needs to calm down,” Senior police official Veselin Milic told state television station RTS.
“He said that after committing (the crime) he was caught by fear and panic and funny breathing, and that it was the right thing to call the police and report the event.”
Police said the shooter used his father’s handgun, which was licensed.
Interior Minister Bratislav Gasic said the gun was kept in a safe but the teen apparently knew the code. His father was also arrested.
Milic said the shooter planned the attack for a month, sketching classrooms and writing out a list of children he planned to “liquidate.” Authorities said they did not know a motive for the shooting. It was unclear if he shot any of the students whom he named on his list.
The suspect can’t face criminal charges because he is under 14, the Belgrade prosecutor’s office said. He has been taken to a psychiatric clinic and social services will determine what happens to him thereafter.
Reports said terrified parents arrived at the school trying to find their children.
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.
Mass shootings in Serbia and in the wider Balkan region are extremely rare and none has been reported in schools in recent years.
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.
They also note that decades-long instability stemming from the conflicts as well as the ongoing economic hardship could trigger such outbursts.
Milan Milosevic, who said his daughter was in a history class when the shooting took place, told N1 television that he rushed out 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.”
“He (the boy who fired the gun) fired first at the teacher and then the children who ducked under the desks,” Mr Milosevic quoted his daughter as saying. “She said he was a quiet boy and a good student.”
Authorities declared three days of nationwide mourning starting on Friday. People left flowers and lit candles outside the school. “Today is one of the toughest days in Serbia’s modern history,” said the populist President Aleksandar Vucic, who addressed the nation in a somber manner, crying occasionally. “Unfortunately, Serbia is united in grief.”
Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.