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Ľubomír HARMAN






Devínska Nová Ves shooting
Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: Shooting spree - The killer's motive remains unknown
Number of victims: 7
Date of murders: August 30, 2010
Date of birth: March 21, 1962
Victims profile: Jozefa Slezáková (76) / Mária Slezáková (44) / Ružena Halászová (51) / Jozef Slezák (12) / Stanislav Slezák (27) / Jozef Pútik a.k.a. Vinco (49) / Gabriela Košťálová (52)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Bratislava, Slovakia
Status: Committing suicide after receiving what would have been a fatal wound from the police the same day

photo gallery


Ľubomír Harman (31 March 1962 – 30 August 2010) was a Slovak spree killer who on August 30, 2010 killed 7 people, and wounded 17 more in a densely populated suburb of the Slovak capital Bratislava, before committing suicide after receiving what would have been a fatal wound from the police.

After murdering a family of 5 inside a neighbour's flat in a local apartment building, he killed another man from the same family outside the building, proceeding to shoot in a busy street and also targeting people standing on their balconies, killing another woman.

Early life

Ľubomír Harman attended a forestry high school in Liptovský Hrádok. According to his former schoolmate Pavol Časnocha who took karate lessons with him at the time, Harman was "a little quiet, I don't want to say withdrawn, maybe a loner". Another former classmate, Peter Žihľavník, remembered him as being an average student without any notable abilities. According to him "(Harman) was not withdrawn and didn't have any kind of phobia, he was a normal boy". They also sometimes played football together.

Harman went through the compulsory military service in the early 1980s, but he was never a professional soldier and he had no criminal record.

Adult life

Ľubomír Harman spent a lot of his time in nature. After finishing high school and military service, he was employed in Wood Industry Bratislava as an "energetician in the technical division". He stayed there for four years. According to an unnamed long-time friend, people liked him there at the time as he would sometimes go drink some beers with his colleagues.

Harman used to be a hunter, this is - according to some - how his relationship with firearms began. On January 10, 1998 Harman became the member of "Club of Reserve Soldiers 008 Fox" in Bratislava, where he often practiced shooting and participated in shooting competitions. He was often seen practicing at a shooting range in Stupava near Bratislava.

During the 1990s Harman worked for four different companies in which he was remembered as always fulfilling his duties the way it was expected. In a company, where he was employed as a boilerman, a female colleague remembers that people used to call him "silent face". "He worked and worked and worked, he listened, but did not talk", she recalls. He is remembered as always frowning but never slacking, helping everyone anytime, described even as an "ideal employee". He worked mainly in maintenance in different heater rooms around Bratislava. He quit his last job suddenly two years ago, being unemployed since August 1, 2008, despite being persuaded by his employer to stay. Since 2008 he was unemployed, he was receiving €118 welfare a month. This would later affect his presence at competitions and in practice because of lack of money. In 2010 before the murders he entered only one shooting competition.

The Slovak police corps president said that Harman was in no relationship with his victims.


Harman never got married and lived a solitary life. According to an unnamed long-time friend, Harman was lately more withdrawn than ever in his life before. He was keen on his parents, brother and sister and he had a good relationships with them. All of them were still alive at the time of the murders.

According to his friend from the shooting club, Daniel Líška, Harman neither showed any aggressive nor hostile behaviour. He has never mentioned any conflicts with his neighbours. He did not communicate with any of his neighbours and they couldn't recall having any conflicts with him either. According to his neighbours he was hard to notice and he never greeted anyone.

According to Harman's ex-colleague who appeared anonymously on camera in TV Markíza on September 2, 2010, Harman was a "good soul" and he got exploited easily.


On August 30, 2010 Ľubomír Harman became the first Slovak gun-wielding spree killer when he opened fire in Devínska Nová Ves district in a suburb of the Slovak capital, Bratislava killing 7 people and injuring 17 before committing suicide. After the massacre, over 9000 bullets were found in his apartment.


The 2010 Bratislava shooting, or Devínska Nová Ves shooting, occurred on 30 August 2010 when eight people (including the perpetrator) died and at least 17 were injured after a lone gunman opened fire in Devínska Nová Ves district in a suburb of the Slovak capital, Bratislava. The shooting spree took place both inside a local panel building and later in the street outside.

This was the second-deadliest attack in the modern history of Slovakia. This is the first time in Slovak history that a mass murderer went on a shooting spree. According to police chief Jaroslav Spišiak, Slovak police has to consult with other countries and find the best precedures for these cases, something that has not yet been done, as of February 2011. The shooting remains controversial not only because the killer's motive remains unknown, but also because of purposefully withholding information from the public by the authorities and what is generally perceived as a failed police action.


Devínska Nová Ves is a rather isolated district on the outskirts of Bratislava, with some 23.000 inhabitants and another 10.000 people commuting to work here (mainly because of the Volkswagen factory, usually bypassing the district proper). At the time of the attack, there were mostly elderly people at home in the apartment building. On the streets, it wasn't as busy as during the morning rush, but there were still quite some people waiting for a bus, or parents taking a walk with small children. The attack started in a panel building, that houses a kindergarten on the ground floor, but since it was the summer holiday, it was empty. There are over 20 policemen serving in the district.

There have been efforts to explain the attack by the tension created after the mass construction of apartment houses and a huge inflow of inhabitants during communism. While it is true that social cohesion is lower in similar environments (see for example Petržalka), no proof has ever been produced in this case.


  • 9:40 a.m. Ľubomír Harman started shooting on the third floor at Pavla Horova Street No. 1 inside apartment No. 8 in Devínska Nová Ves, Bratislava, wearing a pair of blue earmuffs. He was equipped with a Vz. 58 assault rifle, a CZ 85 combat pistol, and a CZ 52 pistol, and many rounds of amunition inside a leather-colored bag hung over his shoulder. The attack started probably around 9:40 a.m.

  • 9:45 a.m. The first emergency phone call was made at 9:45 a.m. The perpetrator first entered a flat on the same floor as his (technically it was his neighbors). After killing all five people in the flat the shooter headed towards the exit from the building where he killed another man from the same family - Jozef Pútik (49). Just outside the building there was also the retired Vincent Fratrič (79), waiting by the entrance for workers who change windows. There he was approached by Pútik, they talked for a while, while Pútik was unable to get buzzed into the apartment where the slaughter just happened. He managed to get inside, however, and some 5–7 minutes later he came running back and collapsed outside of the building. Wounded Pútik grabbed Fratrič by the waist and screamed for help, while the shooter leaned his gun against Fratrič's shoulder as he continued to shoot Pútik once into the head from point blank range. Then "we were looking into each other's eyes", recalls Fratrič. The shooter then changed the ammunition in his assault rifle and opened fire on other people on the street. He also hit several cars driving nearby. He then began walking and firing into windows and in the direction of the kindergarten and local shopping centre. He seemed to be shooting randomly as he also injured several people in a considerable distance. Gabriela Košťálová (52) was shot on a balcony and died in a matter of minutes. At one time, he was shooting from the vicinity of a newsstand. According to eyewitness Dominik Kapišinský (19) the lady inside the stand even came out at one point to throw out the garbage while the shooting was in progress and returned to sit inside again. According to an unnamed female eyewitness cited by magazine Plus 7 Dní, "one man stepped outside of his car and walked towards the shooter asking him why he was shooting".

  • 9:47 a.m. The first police car arrived two minutes after receiving information about the shooting, second police car arrived after another two minutes. Almost immediately, one of the policemen, captain Karol Vrchovský (35), suffered a non-fatal head wound. He approached the shooter at the distance of 60 meters, then took cover behind a panel space at the base of a panel building, where he was hit probably by a deflected bullet that entered though his upper lip and exited near his right ear. The policemen then decided to encircle the shooter and wait for a tactical unit to arrive. With the arrival of the police, the shooter shifted his focus on mainly targeting police officers.

Czech media routinely report that at this time some local inhabitants hand out their bulletproof vests to the engaging police officers.

  • 10:10 a.m. This awaited specialized unit (called "kukláči" in Slovak) arrived at the site from Malacky 25 minutes since the incident was reported.

  • 10:16 a.m. In six minutes they successfully cornered and fatally wounded the attacker, who committed suicide by a single gunshot in the head at 10:16 a.m. Fifteen people were taken to five different hospitals in Bratislava, and two persons were being treated on the spot.

During the attack, the shooter is seen repeatedly touching the barrel of his assault rifle, checking if it is not overheated. This is verifiable from amateur footage made by eyewitnesses.

Many former policemen, soldiers and border-guards live in the Devínska Nová Ves District. During the shooting the perpetrator noticed a man in a window and shot in his direction, hitting his hand. The wounded man, a former professional sniper, subsequently aimed at the perpetrator, but later decided not to intervene and was only watching the police action with binoculars.

During the shooting the local authority instructed people through local radio to avoid standing near windows and to leave the Ján Smrek, Pavol Horov and Štefan Králik streets. "We have verified the information from the police, so we are warning people," said Mayor of Devínska Nová Ves Vladimír Mráz.

Soon after the attack, the police sealed shut the whole district of Devínska Nová Ves, not letting anyone inside and checking every car leaving the district. According to eyewitnesses, after arriving at the exits, the police were just talking for a few minutes, letting people out of the district before starting the searches. Public transport was redirected around the district for an unspecified amount of time.


The shooter was a 48 years old Ľubomír Harman who lived on the same (third) floor of the same building at Pavla Horova street as most of his victims. For over 20 years he was living in this one-room flat, seldom or never visited by anyone. He legally owned six guns including a sport version of the Vz. 58 assault rifle. The assault rifle could only have been held legally for sport purposes, adjusted to be a semi-automatic, rather than fully automatic.

The Slovak police corps president said that Harman was in no relationship with his victims.

Together 16 bullets were fired at Harman by the police, with the sixteenth bullet wounding him fatally. The final shot came from a special ops member, while three other policemen tried to shoot Harman unsuccessfully before. According to autopsy results, Ľubomír Harman was fatally hit into the left side of the chest and afterwards he shot himself with his assault rifle.

The first reports from the place informed that the shooter was an intoxicated boy, approximately 15 years old. Later that day, a single picture taken from one of the balconies above the street by witness Matej became available to the media. In this iconic picture Harman is standing on the street holding his assault rilfe and looking up at the balconies.


The police found five dead in the flat. They were all members of the Putík family. Although initial reports claimed that the family was of Roma ethnicity, it was not; some of the partners of the female victims were Roma (one of them also being the victim), while the family itself was white. The last victim (Ms. Košťálová) was later found by her relatives on the balcony of a different apartment. It was a 52-year-old woman who was not related to the other victims. She was shot when looking down from her balcony.

Five years prior to the shooting Slovak television station Markíza made a reportage about the family of the victims. The reportage was instigated by the neighbors of the family. According to it all other inhabitants of the block of flats signed a letter inviting the reporters. At the time the reportage was made, only two of the victims were living in the flat, while the others moved in later. The reporter starts by saying that "in a block of flats, where tens of families live near each other, one bad neighbour may be a real catastrophy". He continues by claiming that the inhabitants had even faced death threats from said family, and therefore nobody was willing to talk directly to the camera. Later it is revealed, that the family had not paid rent and therefore is facing eviction, however due to the laws in Slovakia, which favour tenants, the process may take very long. The family denied all allegations. According to the report the police were called a number of times to solve the situation, however no progress was made.

Of the 15 people taken to the hospitals, 8 required longer hospitalization, with 3 people being in serious condition. According to the spokeswoman for Bratislava's University Hospital, Rút Geržová, "two, including a 33-year-old Czech man, (are) in very serious condition." The Czech patient had to be put into a coma, also in a critical condition is Andrej (19), who was shot into the chest and collar bone. He had to be resuscitated twice and the doctors had to take part of his lung. Police officer Karol Vrchovský (35) suffered a non-lethal minor face injury. Nadežda (70) was shot into her leg on the street when returning home from buying groceries. She waited for paramedics in the local pharmacy. Veronika (age unknown) was shot into her right shoulder and forearm. A 3-year-old child suffered a minor ear injury when hit inside a car passing by the crime scene (after the attack its father was unsure if it was a hit or just a cut from broken glass). Vincent Fratrič (79) had to be hospitalised because of temporarily going deaf from having a rifle fired by his ear.

Among the injured is also the son of a known Slovak scientist, Igor Kapišinský. Dominik Kapišinský (19) was hit by four bullets into the stomach area while standing on his balcony on 11th floor of a nearby building.

Targeted killings

1. Jozefa Slezáková (born 1934), killed at the apartment, retired, owner of the one-room flat.

2. Mária Slezáková (born 1966), killed at the apartment, daughter of Jozefa Slezáková.

3. Ružena Halászová (born 1959), killed at the apartment but did not live there, daughter of Jozefa Slezáková, described by neighbors as problematic. She returned from The United Kingdom several months before the attack and started visiting her mother.

4. Jozef Slezák (born 1998), killed at the apartment, son of Mária Slezáková, because of his very long hair at first misidentified as a girl.

5. Stanislav Slezák (born 1983), killed at the apartment, grandson of Jozefa Slezáková, his mother did not take part in the massacre.

6. Jozef Pútik a.k.a. Vinco (born 1961), killed right in front of the building, partner of Mária Slezáková and father of Jozef Slezák. He was of Roma ethnicity. According to an interview with his brother a few hours after the massacre, he often visited the apartment to look after his son Jozef.

Random killings

7. Gabriela Košťálová (born 1958), shot when looking down from her balcony, died inside her apartment at Jána Smreka street, found in the late afternoon by her partner.


Information withholding

No information about the attack was made public by the authorities until a press briefing by Interior Minister Daniel Lipšic at 14:39 p.m., despite numerous demands by journalists. This, coupled with the fact that the shooting occurred in a densely populated area with dozens of eyewitnesses with mobile phones, digital cameras and internet connections, created a situation were news media based their reports on accounts from Facebook and word-of-mouth. Many of these information later turned out to be false, yet nevertheless added to the panic.

When minister Lipšic - as the first official to do so - addressed the public over four hours after Harman's death, he started talking about a need for buying new guns for the Slovak police before even telling the public what actually happened and whether it was safe to come outside their homes. In fact, before telling the public what happened, he attacked his predecessor, the previous Interior Minister, talked about the unsuitability of current crime statistics without knowing that the attack was random and managed to praise the police action without any analysis of the police response. Besides a brief message instructing people to stay inside their flats played over a few small loudspeakers on the streets (which are common in Slovakia), citizens were given no information about the shooting until over 4 hours after the attack ended. Actually, after the shooting, no one ever gave the public the information that it is safe again to resume their lives. While Slovak police chief Jaroslav Spišiak and minister Lipšic maintain that the response was well executed and that two minutes after receiving first call the police were already engaging Harman, most of the witnesses agree that the police actions were slow, chaotic and poorly organised.

According to an article published on September 2, 2010 in major Slovak weekly Plus 7 Dní, there was chaos and uncertainty among the citizens at the crime scene. According to journalists Lenka Ďurajková and Lukáš Milan, even in the afternoon, the policmen were outwardly lying to people asking about the safety situation. "Didn't you hear the message over the public radio?!" one policeman is quoted as answering to a question if it safe to go outside. Another policemen is quoted as saying "Do you want to risk it?" when asked by a woman if it is safe to go out with her dog, even when the attacker was several hours dead and the attack long ended.

Discrepancies in the official version of events

Contrary to official version of the events, according to witness Vincent Fratrič (79) it took approximately 10 minutes since Jozef Pútik's (49) death until the first police car showed up.

According to an interview with victim Dominik Kapišinský (19), the police action against Harman was poorly executed and the police did not have the situation under control. At the time he was shot there were already two policemen at the scene, but instead of shooting at the attacker and distracting him away before he shot Kapišinský four times, they were only shouting at Harman.


Investigation of the shootings concluded on July 13, 2011. Six month after the incident, Slovak police were still not able to determine the number of bullets fired by Ľubomír Harman and the number fired by the police. Because of widespread spectulation that some of the victims of the massacre could have been caused by police officers during the chaos of the weakly organised encounter, partial results of the investigation by Expert forensic office of the Slovak Police force (Slovak: Kriminalistický a expertízny ústav Policajného zboru Slovenskej republiky) were made public in February 2011, claiming that the only person ever to be hit by the police was the shooter.

The final results of the investigation were initially released to the TV station Markíza. Its reporters claim that Ľubomír Harman fired 140 bullets (24 inside the apartment and 116 in the street). The police fired altogether 15 bullets, one of them hit the attacker. They also claim that the investigator heard dozens of testimonies and the prosecution was stopped because the accused is dead.


Immediate reaction

Interior Minister Daniel Lipšic and the national police chief Jaroslav Spišiak arrived at the site. President Ivan Gašparovič, Mayor of Bratislava Andrej Ďurkovský and Prime minister Iveta Radičová all expressed their condolences. The Slovak government, at a special session on 31 August, declared a national day of mourning on September 2, 2010, to commemorate the victims of the shooting rampage.

Relatives of the perpetrator faced death-threats from the relatives of the victims after the act. After consulting police, perpetrator's mother, father, brother and sister together with their families probably fled to Hungary to take refuge by their relatives living there. Slovak police is unwilling to comment on this issue. According to police spokeswoman Petra Hrášková, "information that Harman's family is hiding abroad at the advice of the police cannot be confirmed or denied".

On September 2, 2010 the authorities had the apartment disinfected and all of the belongings inside hauled to be burned. This caused strong disagreement on the part of the relatives of some of the victims who claimed the apartment contained some valuables. According to footage made by TV Markíza, more police had to be summoned to the crime scene to handle the situation. Authorities claim that one of the attacker's bullets punctured a water pipe in the apartment. This caused flooding and destroyed much of the stuff inside. They claim the situation had to be dealt with because the crime scene posed a public health hazard.

Long-term response

The following day, Interior Minister Daniel Lipšic announced that the Slovak police are ready to implement changes which should prevent similar attacks in the future, mainly the arming of police officers with Škorpion vz. 61 submachine guns. The plan was immediatedly criticized by police and military experts and journalists alike, because this gun has only limited effectiveness at larger distances and would have not changed anything in the case of this massacre. Later, without much publicity, the Slovak police was issued Vz. 58 assault rifles, the same model as used by the shooter. Following instances of losing their Vz. 58 rifles by policemen, the measure came under criticism in February 2011, when a policman in Bratislava forgot his assault rifle on the roof of his vehicle and drove off (it later slipped off at a public transport stop) and a policewoman in Žilina forgot her Vz. 58 at a gas station after a Sunday coffee. Moreover, the parliamentary opposition attacked the arming of police, saying that arming even the traffic police with submachine guns invokes "feeling of civil war" and "scares the tourists".

The ownership of automatic weapons by civilians is supposed to be prohibited under any circumstances (including competitive shooting). The ownership of firearms should be possible only with adequate psychological examinations and that these will have to be retaken every five years. This was actually proposed also in the past but it was never passed into law because of the powerful hunting lobby in Slovakia.

On October 12, 2010 a memorial medal was awarded to Peter Novosedlík by the Ministry of Interior. Novosedlík, an ex-police officer, risked his own life when he helped get the wounded policeman into an ambulance. He happened to be working about 100 meters away from the place of the massacre.

In fiction

On February 17, 2011 the movie "Devínsky masaker" (English: Devín massacre) about the 2010 Bratislava shootings was premiered in Slovakia. This 60-minute movie is a combination of documentary and drama, combining documentary-style opinions of witnesses and surviving family members with quick-paced action. Notably, however, the family of the shooter refused any cooperation with the filmmakers. Devínsky masaker has received generally negative critical responses, for example a week after the premiere, the Czech and Slovak Film Database reported an aggregate score of 28%. Major Slovak weekly Plus 7 Dní concludes its review by writing: "Trailers for this movie, where producers let Harman's friend strongly attack the dead victims and about the murdered half-Roma boy Jožko, they manage only to inform us that at the age of 12 he did not yet smoke, do not necessarily attract people into cinemas. But they are guaranteed to stir the passions." The movie title is technically incorrect, since the massacre took place in the district of Devínska Nová Ves not the district of Devín. Correctly, it would be "Devínsko Novoveský masaker".



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