Silence, teddies at scene of Serbia school shooting

There is an awful silence hanging over the steep hill on which Vladislav Ribnikar elementary school sits.

On Wednesday, a 13-year-old entered the school, armed with two guns and a “kill list” – and shot dead eight fellow students and a security guard. Six other children remain in hospital.

The school is at the heart of this central Belgrade community, where streams of mourners are arriving, bearing flowers and soft toys.

Exactly 24 hours after the worst school shooting in Serbian history, pupils from the next-door college stand along the street to stand in silence and remember those killed.

“I am crushed,” says final-year school student, Alex Oborina, 19, beside some of the handwritten notes left on the pavement.

“We have failed as a society because this is something that should not happen to a 13-year-old. He should not be grabbing a gun and going into his school and shooting his friends.”

Alex seems to echo the sentiment everyone here feels.”This is probably the worst thing that has ever happened in my life. We need to use this as a stepping stone to rebuild. “

I ask if the suspect’s age of 13 will make it even harder for Serbian society to come to terms with this attack because he is too young to face prosecution.

“Whatever happened, even if he had been 18 or 19, justice would never have been served for those parents who lost their children.”

The boy was arrested by police immediately after the shooting. His father who legally owned both guns was also detained, as was his mother.

His lawyer, Irina Borovic, says he has been interviewed by doctors and has now been taken to a Belgrade neurology and psychiatry clinic for children and youth.

The motive for the attack remains unclear. But of the victims, seven of the eight who were killed were girls.

Further down the hill, candle wax oozes down on to the stems of white lilies resting against a thin tree.

An elderly woman makes the sign of the cross before slowly kneeling down and placing a single flower. -BBC

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