PRAGUE (AP) — A man with an illegal gun fatally shot six people and wounded three others at a hospital in the eastern Czech Republic on Tuesday, the prime minister and officials said. The gunman later killed himself as police approached his car.
Prime Minister Andrej Babis told Czech public television the shooting took place around 7 a.m. in a hospital waiting room. The attacker opened fire at people’s heads from close range, Babis said.
The prime minister canceled an official visit to Estonia and headed to the scene of the shooting at the University hospital in the eastern city of Ostrava, 220 miles east of Prague.
“It’s a huge tragedy,” Babis later said. “It’s an unfortunate, individual act.”
He said the suspect had been treated in the hospital but didn’t offer details.
“Nobody understands why the attacker was so ruthless,” Babis said.
Interior Minister Jan Hamacek said police found the suspect’s car, and he shot himself in the head as they approached and died from his injuries about a half-hour later. Hamacek said police will be investigating his motive.
“I’d like to assure the public that there’s no danger anymore,” Hamacek said.
Police identified the attacker as a 42-year-old man. Several hundred police officers had launched an extensive manhunt, using two helicopters.
Regional police chief officer Tomas Kuzel said the suspect used an illegally held Czech-made 9 mm gun. He said police believe the suspect, who had a criminal record, acted alone.
Police published a photo of the suspect, having withdrawn an earlier photo of a different man. They said that man was now considered to be a witness.
Clinic director Jiri Havrlant told media the dead were four men and two women. Another man and a woman had to be operated on, while one person had less serious wounds.
All the victims were adult patients waiting for treatment.
The nation will honour them with sirens wailing all across the country Dec. 17, Babis said.
It was the second-largest number of Czechs ever killed in a mass shooting after a man opened fire during lunchtime in southeastern town of Uhersky Brod, killing eight before he fatally shot himself in 2015.