Roma family shot in Bratislava by a neighbor, other building residents shocked
Those who found themselves near the frenzied shooting on Monday in the Devínska Nová Ves quarter of Bratislava are still shaken but willing to talk about their experiences. Six of the dead were members of the Putík family. As soon as the public learned the family was Roma, information about how “problematic” they were began to circulate. However, neighbors of both the murderer and the murdered family have started speaking out against these rumors.
A woman who lives on the same floor as both the perpetrator and the murdered family told the Czech Press Agency today that she had opened her apartment door out of curiosity and seen the attacker standing in a cloud of smoke in the hall. "He turned toward me and said ‘Close the door or I’ll shoot your head off,’ so I closed it,” the older woman says.
The neighbor did not know much about the murderer, as he was not very friendly. "He was terribly strange, spoke to no one, just a lone wolf, a strange type,” she claims, adding that she cannot imagine what led him to shoot the entire family. "I don’t know whether they got on his nerves because they were always coming and going,” she says. In her opinion the Roma were not too loud and took model care of their son, a 12-year-old boy who also fell victim to the insane, unemployed murderer.
"They were our neighbors – the grandmother, her daughter, and her grandson who lived with them. They were definitely not troublemakers,” says another neighbor who lived immediately next door to the Roma family. These neighbors have also refuted rumors that the family sold drugs. When asked by journalists about drugs, both gave the same sort of answer: "Get out of here! Horse feathers! What drugs? That’s rubbish.”
According to information published by the daily MF DNES, none of the residents of the building who have been interviewed could confirm that the murderer was in any kind of conflict with his neighbors’ family. Other neighbors also refute speculations that the family might have owed the murderer money. “It’s totally crass to suggest that family would have borrowed money from him. They were afraid of him - they didn’t even have the courage to ring his bell. They never caused any problems - I never heard any kind of commotion from their apartment. As far as we were concerned they were decent people. They were poor, but they were decent,” a neighbor named Silvie told MF DNES, adding that the family had borrowed money exclusively from her. “They only borrowed money from me - every month on the 15th the grandmother would ring my bell because they had no money. I always loaned it to them or gave them some old bread and they always paid me back immediately on the 19th,” she told MF DNES. Other residents of the building also said the permanent occupants of the Putík apartment, the grandmother and her relatives, were decent people, but that other relatives of the family who visited from time to time sometimes drank alcohol and made noise in front of the entrance to the building.
Marta, a retiree who lives right next to the murderer, told MF DNES, “During the summer the grandmother’s daughter started to come here more often. Two or three years ago, when she was still living here, she sometimes yelled at people or swore at them. Then I know she went for treatment somewhere and lived in a hostel. These days she just visited for coffee.” Other residents of the building are reported by MF DNES to have agreed that the Putík family was not especially problematic. Some neighbors dispute that all of the victims were Roma, as many media are reporting. “Sometimes people would sit here and drink in front of the building, but that was mainly a white family, it wasn’t the Roma. It’s just nuts to say this was a racist attack. Only the daughter living in that building has Roma kin. The victims are involved with them, but they aren’t Roma,” one resident told MF DNES.
Police leadership and the Slovak Interior Ministry are talking a great deal about the “heroic” police intervention against the crazy shooter. However, many residents of the quarter claim police did not intervene either forcefully or quickly enough.
The assailant eventually shot himself in the head a few meters from a cosmetic salon. As a salon employee told the Czech News Agency, "That man was standing, leaning against the door of this salon, and if he hadn’t been wearing headphones, he might have heard me lock the door and turned his weapon on me. I called the police to say I was imprisoned just a few meters away from him, but they told me they already knew about him.”
The young woman added that the man was free to move about and faced no threats for about 20 minutes before he began shooting at everything that moved. She says police officers did not approach the scene of the man’s violent spree until several minutes after he shot himself.
Police say the first patrols arrived within two minutes after the shooting was first reported, which was just after 9:45 AM, and succeeded in disarming him after about half an hour. Slovak Interior Minister Daniel Lipšic announced today that the shooter did not commit suicide until after he received what would have been a fatal injury from a police bullet.
Eight people died during the massacre, the attacker and his seven victims. Another 15 people were injured, three of whom, including a Czech citizen, are still in serious condition.
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