An armed attacker in central Slovakia's Martin opened fire in a local disco on February 17, leaving three injured and one dead.
At approximately 4:00 in the morning, three large, middle-aged men approached the entrance of the Alpia discotheque. When the front-door bouncer refused them entrance, a fight between the bouncer and one of the three men broke out.
One of the men not involved in the fisticuffs then pulled out a gun of an unknown calibre and make, entered the club and began shooting at random. Eye-witness accounts said that the patrons of the crowded club immediately began scurrying about in panic.
One bullet ricocheted off a wall and penetrated the left thigh of 20 year-old Mohamed Hashim, a foreign medical student from Sudan. The bullet travelled 45 centimetres up his leg, settling in his gluteal area, said a hospital official, who added that the bullet had fortunately caused no serious damage.
Another bullet grazed a second bouncer above the right eyebrow. An additional club employee was shot in the shoulder by a third shot. All injured were reported to be in good condition and are to be discharged from hospital soon.
"I thought it was just a fight," said Hashim after the altercation. "Then I saw the man shooting and felt something hit my leg. I was in shock. I knew I'd been hit but I just couldn't believe it."
"I heard what sounded like firecrackers so I went to take a look," said his friend Ali. "Then I saw Mohamed on the floor with blood everywhere and I thought, 'This can't be happening. This only happens on TV.'"
As the three attackers made their way back to the exit, the armed man approached the bouncer involved in the original physical altercation, 28 year-old Vladimír Višňovec, and shot him in the head at point-blank range. The culprits then fled the club in a blue Audi.
Višňovec was transported to hospital by taxi. He died in the Martin hospital half an hour later from the gunshot wound.
Eyewitnesses said that police arrived on the scene 30 minutes after the shooting, followed 15 minutes later by an ambulance. When questioned by The Slovak Spectator, neither Martin police nor hospital officials would comment on the shooting.
"It's a tragedy," said a weeping Marek S., a life-long friend of the murdered bouncer. "He was the nicest guy you could know. He never hurt anybody, and everybody loved him. They didn't have to kill him. He was just doing his job."
Unconfirmed reports by eyewitnesses and sources close to the police said that two of the men, including the murderer himself, were from the Czech Republic. The police have declared a nation-wide manhunt for the murderer and his accomplices, and an official investigation has been launched.
The city of Martin is in north Slovakia's Malá Fatra mountains. Foreigners in Martin are predominantly students from Arab countries studying medicine at a branch of Bratislava's Comenius University.
26. Feb 2001 at 0:00 | Firas Abou-Auda