A police officer died and three were injured in an attempted special operation in the Bulgarian town of Lyaskovets on March 14 2014 when they approached the house of a man who had told a school headmaster that he had three hunting rifles and intended shooting school pupils who were annoying him.
Interior Ministry chief secretary Svetozar Lazarov, who was on his way to the town 10km north of Veliko Turnovo, told public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television that the alleged shooter, a 53-year-old man, had barricaded himself in his home since 2010.
The operation was ongoing, the Interior Ministry said in a media statement.
Police cordoned off an area of about 100m from the man’s home, which is close to a local school.
Officials from the regional prosecutor’s office, fire engines and ambulances were at the scene of the shooting, local media said.
Two of the three police wounded on the morning of March 14 were in serious condition, reports said.
Lazarov said that pre-trial investigations had been initiated on charges of death threats and illegal storage of weapons after the man had told the headmaster that he would shoot pupils because they were irritating him.
After the man issued the threat, the headmaster reported the matter to the police. Allegedly, the man repeatedly had threatened school pupils using a sports field at the school. Local media said that the man was said to be psychologically disturbed.
The school headmaster earlier had forbade pupils from walking past the man’s house. Classes at the school were cancelled on March 14.
The operation began at about 5am. Residents were evacuated from the first and second floors of the building where the man, who lived on the ground floor, was staying. Reports said that the gas supply company had cut off the gas at the house to prevent an explosion, although it was not clear at what point this was done.
As the situation continued to unfold, there was indignation among Bulgarians on social networks that it had taken so long to respond to the fact of a man said to be mentally ill who had isolated himself in his home with firearms, and that while the school headmaster had reported the matter to police in February, it had taken until mid-March for the special operation to be launched.
Before isolating himself at home, the man previously had worked in the UK and before that for state railways BDZ, but had been unemployed for some time, reports from the town said.
From Parliament, Speaker Mihail Mikov confirmed that Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev was being contacted to respond to a request to come to the National Assembly on March 14 to brief MPs on the case.
(Main photo: Bart Groenhuizen/sxc.hu)