‘Shoot here!’: reporter screams at Prague gunman to help people flee

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Written By Pinang Driod

© Reuters. Members of the police stand guard following a shooting at one of Charles University’s buildings in Prague, Czech Republic, December 22, 2023. REUTERS/David W Cerny

(This story contains language that some readers may find offensive in paragraph 1)

By Radan Sprongl

PRAGUE (Reuters) – “Hey, you fucker, here I am, shoot here!” screamed a Czech reporter trying to distract a gunman who killed 14 people at a university building in Prague on Thursday, helping people to flee the country’s worst mass shooting.

Jiri Forman, a reporter for a small security-focused news outfit who said he had experience in war zones, evaded fire from the gunman who was perched on a balcony on the top floor of Charles University’s Faculty of Art.

While ducking behind a corner in a square below, he kept feeding information to police outside and urged them to fire back, while filming continuously on his phone.

Asked by an officer what was he doing, Forman is heard in the footage shouting: “So that he doesn’t shoot at the people! What do you think I’m am I doing, man? There are people there!”

His actions have won him plaudits in Czech media, but Forman played down suggestions he was a hero.

“Where I stood it was absolutely safe, nobody was there and I knew I could duck behind an obstacle,” he told Reuters on Friday.

“And if he shoots in my direction, he won’t have the people fleeing, they will have a chance to reach cover. I screamed at him and he started shooting in my direction.”

Police in the square returned fire at the attacker, a 24-year old student at the faculty with a gun licence.

He eventually dropped his rifle with sights, and police said this allowed officers inside the building to get closer, prompting the attacker to shoot himself.

“The policeman I believe shot three times at the attacker. I think this threw him off balance. Then he also hears that police are getting close from inside, so he shot himself,” Forman said.

Police said they had been hunting the assailant since 12.26 p.m. (1126 GMT) on Thursday, when his friend alerted them he had sent a suicidal text message. While they tried to intercept him at a lecture he was due to attend at another location, he went instead to a different building.

Police said it took 21 minutes from the first information on the shooting at the building to confirmation the attacker was dead at 3.20 p.m.

Apart from victims at the university, police said the attacker also killed his father earlier on Thursday and ballistic analysis linked him to the murder of a man and his two-month old daughter last week.

“I did things I believed were right, and unfortunately, the sad heroes are the relatives who lost their closest ones at this Christmas time, and policemen and rescue services,” Forman said.


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