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Tanvald gunshot victim: "I fear for my life"

Tanvald, 6.1.2012 19:16, (ROMEA)

The youth who survived the shooting incident in Tanvald on New Year's Day says he is afraid for his life. He is hiding out at a relative's home and prefers not to leave the apartment because he is concerned the shooter might attack him once again.

The youth, who is the brother of the 22-year-old Romani man shot to death by a pensioner in the incident, told news server Romea.cz that he rejects the information about the incident that some media outlets have published. He says no one else was at the scene of the shooting besides himself, his brother, and the shooter. He also thoroughly rejects the claim that he and his brother were on their way to steal something.

"It was New Year's Eve, we were having a good time, enjoying New Year's. My brother and I said it would be fine [to go out]... We'd just walked a little bit along the railroad tracks and the shooting started," the injured man says.

The victim says he does not personally know the shooter, whom he described as a brawny, tall man with a gray mustache. His loved ones are not certain, but have suspicions as to who the shooter is, believing it to be a man who lives just a few dozen meters away from the apartment of the parents of the two victims.

Those suspicions were upheld by the claims of some youths in the neighborhood. "We suspect who the shooter is. If it's the man we are thinking of, we had problems with him when we were little boys. When we used to walk past his used-car lot to the football pitch, he shot at us more than once from an air rifle and set his dogs on us," one youth said.

The nature of the surviving youth's injuries indicates that the shooter had to have been standing directly over him when he took the shot, which lends credence to the "execution" theory of what happened and corresponds to the victim's description of the situation. He claims he and his brother were walking from a New Year's party at his grandmother's house in the village of Desná to visit his aunt in Tanvald, who lives at the housing estate, and that they were following a path along the railroad tracks which is so narrow and unlit that they had to walk single-file.

"I was walking a little bit behind my brother and watching my feet so I wouldn't trip. There aren't any street lights there, it was dark. Suddenly I heard a blow and my brother fell to my feet covered with blood. I had no idea what was going on. I knelt beside him and shouted at him to say something. At that moment I saw the guy standing over me, heard another blow, and felt a strong pain in my belly," the gunshot wound victim says.

"The guy just calmly stood there and said he did it because we had attacked him, but we never did anything to him, I had never even seen him before the shooting," the victim says. Fearing for his life, the youth limped across the train tracks and hid behind a stack of lumber, where he lost consciousness for a moment. When he woke up, only his dead brother was still there.

TV Nova, the country's most-watched television station, has reported only the version of events as described by the shooter and has also broadcast a computer-designed "reconstruction" of the incident based only on what the shooter has claimed. That version of the incident is being taken at face value by some media outlets even though there is no evidence for it.

The computer graphic being broadcast on the TV Nova news shows two men attacking a defenseless pensioner from behind, kicking him as he is prone on the ground. The pensioner then pulls out a gun and shoots in self-defense. Cracks are now forming in that version of the story.

Evidence that the atmosphere in Tanvald is tense can be seen from the fact that someone has removed all of the candles from the scene of the shooting that were placed there by friends and relatives of the deceased. There is still only a minimum of information available from police and the state prosecutor about the incident. The man who shot at the youths has not yet been charged and was released after giving a statement.

Gwendolyn Albert, Jitka Votavová, Jitka Votavová, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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