‘Scary and traumatising’: S’porean recounts how husband was shot in Dec 21 Prague killing spree , Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

‘Scary and traumatising’: S’porean recounts how husband was shot in Dec 21 Prague killing spree

The last thing Singaporean Sofea Musa heard was a rush of wind before her husband suddenly collapsed while enjoying the sights in Prague.

That gust of wind, however, was a bullet, and it hit Mr Peter Vendel, 47, in the right thigh.

Mr Vendel, a Singapore permanent resident from the Netherlands, was one of 25 people injured after a 24-year-old student went on a shooting spree at Charles University in the capital of the Czech Republic on Dec 21.

Fourteen people were killed before the gunman shot himself as police officers closed in.

In a WhatsApp call with The Straits Times from her hotel room in Prague early on Dec 30, Madam Sofea, 40, said it was a harrowing experience for the family of four.

“It’s been some time since my husband visited his family because of Covid-19, so we thought to go on a trip to Europe and cap it off with a visit to the Netherlands to celebrate Christmas with my in-laws.

“My husband always said Prague was a beautiful place, having visited it in his youth, and I’ve always wanted to come here. I just didn’t expect such a thing to happen.”

Her family – comprising Mr Vendel, their 15-year-old daughter, Amirah Qystina Azman, and five-year-old son, Josh Aidan Tariq Vendel – were on the last day of their stop in Prague. The plan was to head to the Netherlands the next day.

Madam Sofea, who works as an employment inspector, said they were walking along Charles Bridge in the afternoon towards Old Town Square when she heard sirens.

When panicked bystanders started running in the opposite direction, they sensed that something was wrong.

They, too, began to run. They stopped after about 500m, thinking they were safe. That was when Mr Vendel got shot.

Several quick-thinking bystanders pulled him out of the way of the gunfire before an ambulance picked him up and took him to the hospital, leaving Madam Sofea and her two children by themselves.

“Everyone was ducking for cover. We didn’t know if the shooter was taking aim from behind one of the windows,” she said.

“It’s all very traumatising. I’m just holding on day by day, trying to stay positive as my husband awaits his third surgery,” she said. She is also worried about her children’s state of mind, she added.

When Mr Vendel was shot, the bullet punctured his thigh and went through the bone. It then got embedded in his rib.

The previous operations were to remove the bullet and remaining shrapnel, and part of his pelvis. He will get an implant in the final procedure, which has yet to occur.

Madam Sofea’s daughter left for Singapore on Dec 29, accompanied by her former husband. Her son, however, does not want to leave her side.

She said: “Whenever we pass by any broken glass, he points and says it was the shooting.”

In between travelling to the hospital to visit her husband and returning to their hotel room, the only other place Madam Sofea occasionally visits is the supermarket to buy ice cream for her son, who says it soothes him.

Mr Vendel has lived in Singapore for the past decade and works in the marine sector.

The couple run Manis En Zo – a home-based business specialising in Dutch snacks and desserts in Singapore.

The details of what happened to Mr Vendel in Prague first emerged on the business’ Instagram page on Dec 28.

David Kozak was named as the shooter who opened fire at the university in Prague. PHOTO: CZECH POLICE

In the post, the business apologised for not being able to take orders for oliebollen – a Dutch pastry akin to a doughnut – due to Mr Vendel’s injuries.

Doctors in Prague have recommended that Mr Vendel be airlifted to the Netherlands for the final surgical procedure. Singapore is out of the question owing to the distance and Mr Vendel’s condition.

“It’s scary to be here right now, when everything is so uncertain. We have a place to stay until Jan 8, but I don’t know what to do if this drags on, since Peter needs physiotherapy as well,” Madam Sofea said.

Her sister-in-law and mother-in-law, who are in Prague with her, are helping to keep her spirits up, she added. Both of them came from the Netherlands after a 10-hour train ride, and arrived a day after the shooting. Her sister-in-law was the first person Madam Sofea called after an ambulance took her husband away.

She said: “They’re here to keep me sane and give me moral support. My sister-in-law missed Christmas with her 13-year-old daughter just to be with me. My parents have been calling me every day to find out the situation here, and for Peter, it’s such a blessing that every friend of his from every corner of the world reached out when they heard the news.”

As she waits for her husband’s recovery, Madam Sofea hopes for only one thing. “I didn’t expect this to happen to my family. I just want things to go back to normal for us.”

  • Additional reporting by Fatimah Mujibah
Czech RepublicSHOOTING - GUN CRIMEcrimeeurope