McDonald's Massacre

Eszter Balázs

BUDAPEST, Jul 13, 2000 -- (Budapest Sun) Two young men died and another was seriously injured last week at the 24-hour McDonald's at Oktogon in District VI.

A 25-year-old suspect, who surrendered to police near the scene, claimed he would need a long philosophical discussion to explain why he shot four people completely unknown to him.

This was the first such indiscriminate gun massacre in Hungary, police said.

Last Tuesday, several minutes before midnight, the suspect, identified by police only as Zsolt B, entered the McDonald's with a 7.65mm Browning pistol in his pocket, police said.

According to his own statement, he set out to commit suicide but after getting annoyed with three loud patrons sitting by the restroom, he changed his mind. "Rather they die than me," he told police.

Zsolt went into the restroom, loaded his gun, came back out and without warning from a range of two-meters shot a 22-year-old man from Budakeszi in the back. The slug punctured the victim's lung and he died after being taken to the hospital.

Zsolt continued to fire, hitting a 23-year-old man, also from Budakeszi, in the back of the head. He shot a second 23-year-old man, with the bullet piercing his eye and stopping in his jaw.

The first 23-year old died Thursday in the hospital while the second is recovering, authorities said.

Customers and workers at the restaurant fled for the street in panic, with Zsolt walking among them. Once in the street he started down Teréz körút toward Nyugati Station, but at the first street crossing he saw two teenage boys who he judged to be pickpockets, and shot one, aged 17, in the abdomen, leaving him seriously injured. He spared the victim's brother, shooting the ground at his feet because "he was too young", police said.

The gunman turned at the corner and started down Aradi utca. At the first crossing he came across a police cruiser that was heading toward the scene in response to the gunshots.

"Got you some work," Zsolt said, giving himself up to two policemen and handing over the gun.

Investigations have revealed that Zsolt, coming from an outer district of Pest, knew none of his victims. He was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs. He had attempted suicide once before but after counseling his mental state seemed to return to normal, police said.

"Deciding whether Zsolt B was in a clear state of mind when he committed the massacre will take weeks," said Mihály Dézsi, spokesman at the Budapest Police Headquarters (BRFK).

If a psychiatrist finds that Zsolt's mind had been disturbed, he could not be imprisoned but would be committed to a mental institution.

Zsolt B, who has no criminal record, had been employed as a caretaker in a Budapest theater until two months ago. He had been living with his girlfriend for six months.

The suspect told police that he purchased the Browning a few months ago but would not say from whom, only that it was not anyone that he knew.

Police say the Browning was once legally registered, but that its owner had his permit revoked and was compelled to destroy the firing mechanism.

The gun is not common, but can be obtained in a few days time on the black market, sources said.

Original article