VELIKA IVANCA, Serbia -- He went from house to house in the village at dawn, cold-bloodedly gunning down his mother, his son, a 2-year-old cousin and 10 other neighbors. Terrified residents said if a police patrol car hadn't shown up, they all would have been dead.
Police said they knew of no motive yet in the carnage yesterday that left six men, six women and a child dead in Velika Ivanca, 30 miles southeast of Belgrade.
Suspect Ljubisa Bogdanovic, 60, who saw action in one of the bloodiest sieges of the Balkan wars, turned his gun on himself and his wife as authorities closed in, police said. Both were in grave condition at a hospital in Belgrade.
In the small lush village surrounded by fruit trees, the suspect's older brother Radmilo broke down in tears, unable to explain why the massacre had happened.
"Why did he do it? . . . I still can't believe it," he said sobbing, covering his face with his hands. "He was a model of honesty. As a child, he was a frightened little boy. I used to defend him from other children. He couldn't even slaughter a chicken," he said.
But he said his brother had changed after serving in the army during a brutal Serb-led offensive against the eastern Croatian town of Vukovar in 1992, the worst bloodshed during Croatia's 1991-95 war for independence.
"The war had burdened him," Radmilo, 62, told The Associated Press. "He used to tell me: 'God forbid you live through what I went through' . . . Something must have clicked in his head for him to do this."
Twelve people in the village were killed immediately between 5 and 5:30 a.m. and one person died later in a Belgrade hospital, Serbian police chief Milorad Veljovic said.
"Most of the victims were shot while they were asleep," Veljovic told reporters. "The most harrowing scene discovered by police was the dead bodies of a young mother and her 2-year-old son."