A man has been arrested after eight people died and 14 were injured in Serbia’s second mass shooting in a week. The attack occurred near a village some 60km (37 miles) south of Belgrade when the shooter opened fire from a moving car.
He was arrested in the early hours of Friday morning after “an extensive search”, the interior ministry said. The suspect – who has only been identified by his initials UB – was detained near the city of Kragujevac, the interior ministry said. The arrest followed an extensive manhunt, which local media reported involved over 600 police officers. He was eventually found hiding at his grandfather’s house, Serbian broadcaster RTS reported.
The suspect started firing at people with an automatic weapon after having an argument with a police officer in a park on Thursday evening. He then proceeded to shoot people from a car, killing at least eight people and wounding many more.
All injured people admitted to hospital were born after the year 2000, RTS reported. Two people aged 21 and 23 were operated on, but remain in critical condition.
Speaking at a news conference after the attack on Friday, Serbia’s president said the suspect had been wearing a T-shirt with neo-Nazi symbols, but no further details were given.
President Vucic called the shooting “an attack on us all” and announced a host of new security measures, including a plan to hire 1,200 new police officers. He also announced a ban on new gun permits, tougher penalties for illegal weapons possession and psychological checks of gun owners. He said the new laws would result in the “practical disarmament” of Serbia.
On Wednesday, a thirteen-year-old boy shot dead eight fellow pupils at his school in Belgrade, as well as a security guard. It prompted the Serbian government to propose tighter restrictions of gun ownership.
NBA basketball player Luka Doncic said he would pay for the funerals of all nine people killed in Wednesday’s shooting, and for grief counselling for classmates and staff.
Mass shootings are extremely rare in Serbia, which has very strict gun laws, but gun ownership in the country is among the highest in Europe.
The western Balkans are awash with illegal weapons following wars and unrest in the 1990s. In 2019, it was estimated that there are 39.1 firearms per 100 people in Serbia – the third highest in the world, behind the US and Montenegro.