A 13-year-old caused a bloodbath at his own school in Belgrade on Wednesday morning. He went into his own class and shot classmates and other staff with a handgun. He killed nine people – eight students and a security guard, as Veselin Milic, director of the Belgrade police, said at a press conference in the Serbian capital. Six other students and one teacher were injured. The country is in shock.

The teenager himself called the police after the crime and officers arrested him. He was born in July 2009, Milic said when asked by reporters. According to Serbian law, he is not of criminal age and cannot be brought before a court. The police arrested his parents later that day. The boy was taken to a neuropsychiatric clinic after his arrest.

Three days of national mourning ordered

“This is one of the most difficult days in modern Serbian history,” President Aleksandar Vucic told the press that evening. Serbia is united in mourning. Hours earlier, the government had ordered a three-day state mourning.

The boy had planned the act over a long period of time, police director Milic continued. The two pistols he had with him belonged to his father. In addition, he had prepared four incendiary devices, which he did not use.

On the desk at home, the police officers found a sketch of the school’s structural features and a list of the names of potential victims. “The sketch looks something like something out of a video game or a horror movie,” Milic said. The motives initially remained unclear.

Target practice with the father

The father of the 13-year-old therefore had a valid firearms license. The police suspect him of not keeping them properly. The boy shouldn’t have had access to them. As President Vucic explained in his press conference, the father is an “exemplary doctor”. At the same time, he expressed his surprise that the father had taken his son to a shooting range and practiced shooting with him.

As in other Balkan countries, acts of violence are not uncommon in everyday life in Serbia. Bloody settlements among criminal gangs and murders of women and children within families are relatively common. But that a child commits such an act is new in Serbia.

The bloody deed also triggered international reactions of compassion and dismay. “We would like to express our deepest condolences to the families and relatives of the victims,” ​​said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell in Brussels.