Eight killed in second Serbia mass shooting, suspect arrested

The suspect, a young man, had been involved in an altercation in a school yard who left and then returned with an assault rifle and a handgun

Antonio Bronic and Aleksandar VasovicReuters
Published : 5 May 2023, 02:52 PM
Updated : 5 May 2023, 02:52 PM

Police arrested a suspect on Friday after eight people were killed and 14 wounded in Serbia's second mass shooting in two days in what President Aleksandar Vucic called a "terrorist attack" as the government approved tough new gun controls.

The Balkan country was already reeling from a mass shooting on Wednesday, when authorities say a 13-year old boy shot dead nine and wounded seven at a school in Belgrade before turning himself in.

Serbs had just begun three days of mourning on Friday for those victims as news broke of the second shooting, which authorities said began late on Thursday in the village of Dubona, 42 km (26 miles) south of Belgrade.

"This is terrible for our country, this is a huge defeat. In two days so many ... killed," said village resident Ivan.

  • Serbia reeling from second mass shooting in 2 days

  • President Vucic announces tough new gun control measures

  • Latest incident took place in village south of Belgrade

  • Suspect opened fire after altercation in schoolyard: radio

State broadcaster RTS said the suspect, a young man, had been involved in an altercation in a school yard. He left and then returned with an assault rifle and a handgun, opened fire and continued to shoot at people at random from a moving car.

The suspect also fired at people in two other nearby villages before fleeing, authorities said. Police found him eventually hiding in his grandfather's house, where they also discovered hand grenades, an automatic rifle and ammunition.

"The suspect UB, born in 2002, has been apprehended in the vicinity of the city of Kragujevac, he is suspected of killing eight people and wounding 14 overnight," Serbia's Interior Ministry said in a statement. An investigation was ongoing.

Police also arrested the suspect's grandfather and uncle.

Serbian Health Minister Danica Grujicic said many of the wounded had suffered multiple injuries and had undergone surgery, but she added that all were in a stable condition.

In a sombre national address, President Vucic, wearing a dark suit, said the gunman had been wearing a T-shirt with neo-Nazi symbols. He gave no further details about the shootings.

Vucic proposed a moratorium on gun permits regardless of weapon type, in what he called a "practical disarmament" of Serbia that would also include more frequent, mandatory medical and psychological checks of gun owners.

The government would also hire 1,200 new police officers to improve security in schools, said Vucic.

In Serbia, the president is largely a ceremonial figure but Vucic wields considerable power as he also heads the ruling party, and the government later approved his proposals.

Under the plans, the Interior Ministry will also invite people who own illegal weapons and explosive devices to surrender them within a month without legal consequences.


"There will be justice. These monsters will never see the light of the day, neither the little monster nor the little older monster," he said, referring respectively to the suspected killers from Wednesday and Thursday.

Vucic said he had proposed the reintroduction of the death penalty but said the government was against such a step.

Foreign heads of state include Pope Francis and Britain's King Charles sent their condolences to Vucic.

RTS said an off-duty policeman and his sister were among those killed on Thursday.

"This is sad, the young policeman is my daughter's age, born in 1998," said Danijela, a middle-aged woman in Dubona. "My daughter is taking sedatives, we could not sleep all night. They grew up together."

The editor-in-chief of the Vreme weekly, Filip Svarm, said there was clearly a copycat element in the latest shootings and that tabloid newspaper coverage of such tragedies too often ended up glamorising the killers, but he said the tougher restrictions could prove counter-productive.

"I am afraid that now, precisely because of this panicked reaction from the Serbian president, citizens will start to arm themselves illegally," he said.

Serbia has an entrenched gun culture, especially in rural areas, but also strict gun control laws. Automatic weapons are illegal and over the years authorities have offered several amnesties to those who surrender them.

Still, Serbia and the rest of the Western Balkans remain awash with military-grade weapons and ordnance that stayed in private hands after the wars of the 1990s.

"We don't even have an assessment of how many illegal weapons are out there and what kind," said Aleksandar Zivotic, a historian at Belgrade University.