Serbia held a national day of mourning yesterday after a war veteran went on a killing spree, shooting dead 13 relatives and neighbors including his son, his mother and a two-year-old child, in his tiny village near Belgrade.
It was the worst such incident in two decades in the Balkan country, shocked by what police called a “monstrous” crime.
Police identified the gunman as 60-year-old Ljubisa Bogdanovic, who shot most of his victims in the head as they slept before trying to kill himself and his wife.
Both were seriously wounded along with a third person, who later died in a hospital, Serbian police chief Milorad Veljovic told reporters at the scene on Tuesday.
He said the victims who died — six men, six women and the child — include Bogdanovic’s mother and his 42-year-old son.
“Twelve people were killed on the spot, while the 13th died in hospital,” Veljovic said.
According to the victims’ neighbors the murdered child was a boy. Most of the victims were Bogdanovic’s relatives.
The motive for the attack in the village of Velika Ivanca, located about 50km south of Belgrade, was not immediately clear.
Speaking to the police from her hospital bed, the gunman’s wife said her husband had a “bad temper” but could not hint at a possible motive for the murders, Vecernje Novosti daily reported in its online edition.
“I could not dream that he would do this. There have been no hints,” the daily quoted Javorka Bogdanovic as saying.
“He had a bad temper, but I did not dream of this. We were all like a big family,” she said.
Doctors from Belgrade’s Emergency Hospital said her condition was “serious but stable,” while her husband was “still in coma,” the newspaper reported.
Bogdanovic went house to house at 5am methodically shooting his victims in five houses on a hill on the outskirts of the village, police said. The houses are only about 10m away from each other.
He is thought to have first killed his son and mother, then wounded his wife, before continuing on his shooting spree and then turning the gun on himself when a police patrol arrived.