Gunman kills seven in Slovak capital shootout
Roma family of five victims of rampage
Published 31/08/2010 | 05:00
A GUNMAN went on a rampage in Slovakia's capital yesterday killing seven people.
The man also wounded 15 others before turning an automatic weapon on himself and committing suicide.
Five of those killed were members of a Roma family who lived in an apartment where the man began his attack with a machine gun and two pistols.
Roma often face discrimination in eastern Europe, but Interior Minister Dusan Lipsic and police chief Jaroslav Spisiak said the unidentified gunman's motive was not known.
Another man shot dead outside the building was "probably" also a member of the same family, Mr Lipsic said.
"So far we don't know the motive . . . so I will not speculate whether it did or did not have a racial motive," he said at a news conference.
"I doubt it, but of course the investigation is ongoing."
The shooting took place at midday in the rundown Devinska Nova Ves neighbourhood on the outskirts of Bratislava, which is surrounded by fields and industrial areas.
The five Roma who died in the apartment -- four women and a man -- lived in a high-rise building, Mr Spisiak said.
Police rushed to the scene as the attacker, about 50 years old, was leaving the building, firing indiscriminately at people in the area, wounding 15, including a policeman and a three-year-old boy who was shot in the ear while travelling in a car that was hit by bullets, according to the police.
The seventh fatality was a woman who was shot as she walked to the balcony of her apartment when she heard the gunfire.
Daniel Zitnan of Bratislava's Children's Hospital said the three-year-old boy was only slightly hurt and was later released.
Renata Vandriakova, who heads the emergency room of one Bratislava hospital and oversees the city's response to emergencies, said one of the 15 wounded was in a critical condition.
Emergency crews blocked off the scene of the attack, which also includes a kindergarten and a supermarket.
Hours later, stunned residents were in a state of disbelief.
"I'm shocked," said 20-year-old Andre Smahovski, a student whose friend was injured in the attack.
Christian Padour (40) described how his sister-in-law was at a doctor's office when a woman who had been shot by the gunman entered the surgery to the horror of those present.
"I (normally) feel safe here, but now it looks like the Wild West," Mr Padour said.