Bratislava Double Murder To Be Investigated as Hate Crime, Possibly Terrorism
A flag of condolence hangs outside the Philosophy Faculty at Comenius University, where one of the victims was a student. Photo credit: FiF UK via facebook.
Bratislava/Pezinok, West Slovakia, Oct 15 (CTK) – Slovak police will investigate the murder on Wednesday of two people at an LGBT bar in Bratislava as a hate crime related to the victims’ sexual orientation, though depending on the investigation, the act may be re-classified as terrorism, elite police unit chief Lubomir Danko told reporters yesterday.
He confirmed that the 19-year-old shooter had been found dead, probably having committed suicide.
The investigation has not established that the victims were known to the attacker, the police say.
The perpetrator opened fire at a bar for LGBT+ people, shooting two men aged 23 and 26 dead, and wounding a 28-year-old woman, who suffered a leg injury.
The attacker used a firearm with a laser sight that was legally owned by a relative. The media reported that the gun owner was the shooter’s father.
The attacker went from the scene of the crime to his home, which he then left.
He is likely to have committed suicide with a different weapon. On Thursday morning, his body was found by a witness who reported it to the police.
Police deputy president Branko Kiss said the police had found out the assailant’s identity three and a half hours after the attack, in cooperation with the SIS secret police, and were tracking him.
The attacker left a farewell letter at his home. Prosecutor Daniel Lipsic said at a press conference the shooter’s parents had not told the police about their son’s crime, although they were aware of it. He had previously trained at a shooting range.
Slovak media outlets reported that prior to the shooting, the assailant had published a manifesto against Jews and LGBT people online, calling for violence against those groups. He continued tweeting after the attack.
Before the attack, the perpetrator had taken photos of himself not only in front of the bar in question, but also in front of the home of Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger. Based on the manifesto and examination of further evidence, investigators may change the legal designation of the crime to a terrorist act.
Mourners gathered in Bratislava yesterday in remembrance of the victims of the shooting. The commemorative event at the Teplaren club and the subsequent rally in condemnation of hatred towards the LGBT+ community were attended by President Zuzana Caputova, PM Heger and other politicians.
The attendance was at least 20,000, according to Slovak daily Sme.
After lighting candles at the site of the tragedy, the participants joined the remembrance rally in the center of Bratislava. Similar events also took place in other Slovak towns and in the Czech Republic.
A rainbow flag has been flown at the Presidential Palace in Bratislava as a sign of respect for the victims and of solidarity with the LGBT+ community.
In Prague, hundreds of candles and banners promoting the rights of sexual minorities were brought to the Slovak embassy, in commemoration of the victims and in support of the LGBT+ community. The event was mostly silent, with mostly young people and families arriving with flowers, candles, banners and rainbow flags. The speakers warned against violence targeting minorities.