CETINJE, Montenegro — Montenegro declared three days of national mourning on Saturday, a day after 10 people, including two children, were killed in a broad daylight attack by a 34-year-old gunman who police said had recently shown a “behaviour change”.
The attacker first used a shotgun to kill two children aged 8 and 11 and their mother, who lived as tenants in his house in the western town of the Medovina district of Cetinje. He then walked down the street and randomly shot another 13 people, including seven fatally. The shooter was later shot after a shootout with police.
Police investigating the rampage released a statement on Saturday saying it was still unclear what motivated the shooter – identified only by his initials, VB But they said people close to the attacker said that he had recently started showing a “change in behavior but nothing to indicate he could commit such a crime. The abuser had an appointment with a mental health care specialist, but went on a rampage before that.
The police statement also said law enforcement officers sent to the scene came under fire from the assailant and retaliated by shooting him at least 20 times and seriously injuring him.
“An inquest is still ongoing to determine whether he died from serious injury (by police) or from being shot by a local citizen,” the statement said.
The prosecutor coordinating the investigation, Andrijana Nastic, told reporters on Friday that the shooter was killed by a passerby and that a police officer was among the injured. She said nine of those killed died at the scene and two died in a hospital.
Witnesses to the attack on Saturday struggled to come to terms with the carnage. They described scenes of chaos and horror as the gunman unleashed his fury on innocent people going about their daily lives on a hot summer afternoon.
“You could hear women crying, people screaming in panic that a man had a gun and was shooting indiscriminately. I heard gunshots,” said witness Milena Stanojevic. “I saw a lot of crying, tears and sadness and today silence and disbelief.”
Cetinje, a town of 17,000 and seat of the former royal government of Montenegro, lies 36 kilometers (22 miles) west of Podogrica, the current capital of the small Balkan nation.
Four of the injured were transferred to the clinical center in Podgorica for surgery and were still in intensive care on Saturday, according to its chief neurosurgeon, Dr Ivan Terzic. Two others suffered less serious injuries and were recovering in a hospital in Cetinje.