(CNN) A 14-year-old boy opened fire at his prestigious school in the Serbian capital Belgrade on Wednesday morning, killing eight children and a guard and seriously injuring several others, officials said.
The rare and shocking incident caused panic among parents at the school, many of whom gathered outside the building and desperately tried to reach their children.
Seven girls and one boy were killed, along with the guards, Belgrade police chief Veselin Milic told a news conference.
The suspect opened fire in a history classroom “because it was close to the entrance of the school,” he added. The teenager then called the police himself and waited to be arrested in the school yard, Milich said.
Another six children and a teacher were hospitalized, according to the Serbian Interior Ministry.
The alleged shooter was later filmed being led away from the school in handcuffs, with a jacket over his head and wearing blue skinny jeans. He was surrounded by police and taken away in an unmarked police car.
Nearby, parents are struggling to come to terms with the shooting that rocked the country on Wednesday. The father of one student said he ran to the school to look for his daughter after seeing police at the scene, according to CNN affiliate N1.
“My child is still in shock, full of adrenaline, we haven’t been able to calm him down,” a mother of one told N1.
Another father recounted a chaotic morning. “I was going to the bank and I saw a bunch of policemen. This was around 8:50. I came running. I saw the school psychologist, I saw the school staff, the teachers who were in shock,” said father N1.
“The police came quickly as far as I could see. I asked, “Where is my child?” One man allegedly said the history teacher had been shot. I went back to my apartment to look at my kid’s schedule and she was actually in history class. I took my wife with me and we went out into the street again,” he said.
“I saw the security guard lying under a table, in a circle [of blood?] I walked through the door looking for an employee. I did not know what to do. I asked “Where is my child?” and nobody said anything,” said the father.
The man later found out that his daughter escaped unharmed.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement on Facebook that it was informed at 8:40 a.m. local time (2:40 a.m. ET) that a shooting had broken out at Vladislav Rybnikar School, a well-known institution in Vracar, a prestigious area of Serbia. capital.
“All available police patrols were dispatched to the scene and immediately entered the school grounds and detained a minor seventh-grader who is believed to have fired several times from his father’s gun at students and school security,” the press office said. said statement.
A student wounded in the shooting is in danger of life and has been operated on, N1 reported.
“The injured are being treated and the police are working to establish the facts and circumstances that led to this incident,” the ministry said in a statement.
“All police forces are still on the scene and are working intensively to clarify all the facts and circumstances that led to this tragedy,” they added.
Serbia has had a high level of gun ownership since the conflict with Kosovo in the 1990s; a 2018 study found the country to have the third-highest level of gun ownership in the world, tied with Montenegro and behind only the United States and Yemen.
But the country has strict gun laws and has issued amnesties for owners to surrender or register illegal firearms, meaning mass shootings are relatively rare, according to Reuters.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that Tanjug is no longer a state news agency.