‘It’s Columbine all over again’: WTOP’s Lauryn Ricketts describes Prague after university shooting

A student opened fire at a university in the Czech capital, Prague, shooting dead 14 people before killing himself, authorities said Friday. It was the worst mass shooting in Czech history.

A mourner lays a candle light outside the headquarters of Charles University for victims of mass shooting in Prague, Czech Republic, Friday, Dec. 22, 2023. A lone gunman opened fire at a university on Thursday, killing more than a dozen people and injuring scores of people. (AP Photo/Denes Erdos)(AP/Denes Erdos)

Interior Minister Vit Rakusan said police in Prague all the 14 who died in Thursday’s attack have been identified. The Institute of Music Sciences confirmed that its head, Lenka Hlávková, was among the dead.

The Czech Foreign Ministry confirmed that three of those wounded were foreigners — two from United Arab Emirates and one from the Netherlands.

WTOP meteorologist Lauryn Ricketts, who lives in Prague, joined John Aaron and Michelle Basch and described the scene before and after the shooting.

WTOP meteorologist Lauryn Ricketts describes the scene in Prague after a university shooting that killed 14 people.

John Aaron: “This must be a shock for you and those who live in the community. This type of incident is unprecedented in that area, right?”

Lauryn Ricketts: “I could not believe what I was hearing yesterday, and I just gotten back from that area. That is a very populated area: Staroměstské, which means old city. That’s the tram stop that’s right there. I actually had a picture on Instagram that I was there at 1 o’clock, and I could barely get off the tram because there were so many people there. So I can’t imagine what the scene was like two hours later, when the shooting actually occurred. And again, this is unprecedented. Only in the Czech Republic, but throughout Europe, this just doesn’t happen. So it was very sad and very shocking. And it’s just heart wrenching for these people.”

Michelle Basch: “What is the reaction you’re hearing among people in the community there?”

Ricketts: “Yeah, first, it is kind of disbelief. I’ve had so many people, obviously, because I’m an American, compare this to America. And obviously, we unfortunately have become a little bit more desensitized to it. And, you know, we all work in the news, I do personally, and so definitely become a little bit more desensitized to it, whether I want it to or not. Being here for the last year and a half living in Prague, I’ve kind of, you know, pushed myself out of that realm. And now right back into it, and what I feel and what I see, getting back to your question with these people, I feel like it’s Columbine all over again. This is the first of this happening over here. They hear about it thousands of miles away, but it’s incredibly difficult to get a gun. Nobody has guns here. I feel completely safe walking from my apartment to downtown Prague in the middle of the night with headphones in and not even think twice. It is a very safe area. So I just feel like it’s kind of tainted now, and I think they are living into that reality that ‘wow, this can happen anywhere, and it’s happened here.'”

See more coverage on the shooting by The Associated Press here.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The interview was lightly edited for clarity. 

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