The two massacres, one occurring at the Vladislav Ribnikar primary school and the second a shocking drive-by that together killed 17 and left 21 wounded, were all but unprecedented.
As has been the response.
Following the shootings, which shockingly took place over a two-day span in early May, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced a gun amnesty in a country literally littered with guns in the wake of regional wars. Serbs responded, and in little more than a week at least 13,500 illegal weapons—including anti-tank grenades—have been turned in.
The response—of which the West should take notice—was a reflection of soul searching and disgust with regard to violence and also daily glorifying of violence in the form of reality TV, and according to some, the media. In fact, the war years did leave Serbia with a legacy of violent gangs, the most powerful of which have morphed into serious players in the international cocaine trade.
Yet narco crime is narco crime, and that violence has rarely impacted or directly affected the average Serb. On the other hand, thugs and gang members (alleged in any case) have participated in reality TV shows and found infamy (or fame) in the pro-government sphere.
This has resulted in calls for a change—and said calls have not been limited to entertainment on TV, with Vucic’s party no dealing with cries to replace further ministers, following the resignation of Education Minister Brako Ruzic in the wake of the killings.
For his part, Vucic has claimed that opposition government players are using the massacres to gain political capital. Even so, he has also stated that early elections are in the wings, and he has also more than once—chiefly during Serbia-Kosovo headbutting—signalled that he may eventually resign, possibly even within the coming days, from his role as the true leader of the Progressive Party, which also controls the government under the reigns of Prime Minister Ana Brnabic.
Photo by Guelland/ MSC, CC BY 3.0 DE <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/de/deed.en>, via Wikimedia Commons.