BELGRADE, Serbia — A 60-year-old army veteran of the Balkan civil wars killed 13 people, including his own son, before critically wounding himself in the deadliest shooting spree in Serbia's post-Yugoslav history.
Ljubisa Bogdanovic allegedly shot his son dead with a pistol in their home in the village of Velika Ivanca near Belgrade, injured his wife and then killed 12 others, including a 2-year-old boy, in four nearby homes before dawn Tuesday, police officials said. He then turned the gun on himself as police closed in and remains in a Belgrade hospital with nine gunshot wounds to his head, the Interior Ministry said.
Five houses in Velika Ivanca, a tiny village about 25 miles south of the Serbian capital, were taped off as investigators, who said they don't yet know the motive, worked to piece together what happened, interviewing residents and taking eyewitness statements.
"This happened out of the blue just like any other mass murder," said Zorica Pavlovic, a local psychologist who helped investigators at the scene, including interviewing Bogdanovic's two daughters, who were being treated for shock.
At the moment, there are no charges filed against Bogdanovic as doctors worked to save his life at the Belgrade Emergency Center, said Dusica Ristic, a spokeswoman from the Higher Court in Belgrade.
"At this stage, there is no court procedure and therefore no legal representative," said Ristic in a phone interview. "This is all still being investigated by the police."
Surviving family members were not immediately available for comment.
Belgrade-based B92 radio reported the attacker was known as a "quiet and hard-working man" who was drafted in the early 1990s during the wars in the former Yugoslavia and briefly fought in neighboring Croatia.
Kurir newspaper reported that most of the victims were the gunman's "close relatives," and all were shot in the head.
Stanica Kostadinovic, a villager who said police saved her and her family from the massacre, was alerted that something was amiss by a dog barking. When police arrived, she said, they warned her and her family to remain in the house and began pursuing Bogdanovic.
"When the killer saw the police, he ran off to an orchard and shot himself there," she said. The Belgrade-based Interior Ministry, in an email, confirmed Kostadinovic's account.
— With assistance from James M. Gomez in Prague and Gordana Filipovic in Belgrade.