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updated: 4/12/2013 10:39 AM

Tears flow as 13 Serbian shooting victims buried

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  • People react prior to a mass funeral of the victims of a shooting in the village of Velika Ivanca, some 30 miles southeast of Belgrade, Serbia, Friday, April 12, 2013. The village is preparing for the funerals of thirteen victims of a shooting that happened on Tuesday, April 9, 2013.

      People react prior to a mass funeral of the victims of a shooting in the village of Velika Ivanca, some 30 miles southeast of Belgrade, Serbia, Friday, April 12, 2013. The village is preparing for the funerals of thirteen victims of a shooting that happened on Tuesday, April 9, 2013.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

VELIKA IVANCA, Serbia -- Mourners wailed and church bells tolled Friday in this Serbian village as hundreds came to bury 13 people shot dead by a man some called a quiet, helpful neighbor.

Ljubisa Bogdanovic, a 60-year-old veteran of the Balkan wars, went on a pre-dawn, house-to-house rampage Tuesday in Velika Ivanca, before turning the gun on himself and his wife, police said. The 13 victims included his mother, his son and a 2-year-old boy who was his cousin.

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On Friday, the dead lay in coffins -- a dozen brown wooden ones and a small white one for the boy -- all lined up on a red carpet before a small church near the village cemetery. Mourners, many dressed in black, crowded the small graveyard, just a few kilometers (miles) from the scene of the shootings.

Two women, relatives of the boy's family, fainted when his coffin was lowered into the grave.

"Sometimes humans do evil that would shame the devil," Serbian Orthodox Church Bishop Jovan said in a eulogy. "No knowledge can explain why this happened in this quiet village."

The gunman died Thursday in a Belgrade hospital. His 60-year-old-wife is still hospitalized, recovering from shoulder and head wounds.

Police say they do not yet know what motivated Bogdanovic, who had no criminal record or recorded history of mental illness. He fought in the Balkan wars in the 1990s and lost his wood factory job a year ago.

Residents of the village 30 miles southeast of Belgrade have expressed deep shock at the rampage.

"I never could have expected this to happen," said Radoslav Stekic, whose mother was killed. "Look around you, there's nobody left here to even say hello to. Look at our village, it has been closed down completely."

The suspect's wife, speaking to doctors from her hospital bed, said Bogdanovic had "a bad temper" and used to beat her and their 42-year-old son who lived with them.

Serbian officials said the killings showed the government must pay more attention to gun control, medical screening for war veterans and other social problems. Police said Bogdanovic had a license for the handgun he used.

No burial plans have been announced for the shooter.

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