A 21-year-old man, Uroš B., suspected of killing eight people and injuring 14 others in a mass shooting on Thursday near Mladenovac, Serbia, had a history of mistreating and killing animals, according to residents.
Neighbors told local media they reported the incidents to authorities, but Uroš continued his abusive behavior. Many neighbors chose to distance themselves from Uroš and his family due to his cruel actions towards animals.
Police arrested the suspect on Friday. Villagers expressed disbelief and heartbreak as the tight-knit community was left devastated by the attack.
“An unprecedented and awful tragedy. We still cannot pull ourselves together and accept that something like that could have happened,” resident Dragan Pavlovic said.
The mass shooting was the second in a week in Serbia: a 13-year-old boy is suspected of killing eight students and a security guard at a school in Belgrade on Wednesday.
In response to the violence, the government has introduced measures to prevent violence in schools and reduce the number of weapons held by civilians.
Animal abuse and mass shooting
Studies have found that many individuals who commit mass shootings or other acts of violence have a history of animal cruelty. A 2014 study, ‘Animal Abuse as a Warning Sign of School Massacres,’ analyzed 23 cases of school shooters in the United States and found that 43% of them had a history of animal abuse.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has also recognized the connection between animal abuse and violent crimes, including mass shootings. In 2016, the FBI began collecting data on animal cruelty through its National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), which helps identify patterns and trends related to animal abuse and its link to violent crimes.
The link between animal abuse and mass shootings suggests that animal cruelty could be a warning sign or risk factor for future violent behavior.