“The children were playing in the yard, I went outside to check on them“- József begins his story of the events of the previous Wednesday. It started out as an average summer night; it was around 7 p.m. All of a sudden, he heard a loud bang that he could not explain. So he looked out onto the street, and that’s when he heard the second one. The pedestrians heard the noises as well, which were reminiscent of gunshots. “It was as if I felt something whiz past me. I was frightened. I don’t know what it was, but by now I am too afraid to say anything.”
The two Putnok policemen who arrived on the scene around 7:30 p.m. tried to find the casings for an hour and a half, and they even went around asking all the neighbors whether they had been responsible for the noises. They found that that was not the case. At around 9 p.m. the two policemen left the scene, and the casings were not found. During this time, the head of the Putnok TASZPOINT (Hungarian Civil Liberties Union legal service station) arrived. With the help of the HCLU, they turned to the public to question why, during a suspected gunshot investigation, the police does not automatically send investigators to secure the crime scene, and instead relies on civilians and local police to look for casings.
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After 9 p.m. a journalist from Index called the Roma family from Putnok, and an account of the events was published by 10 p.m. The investigators only arrived afterwards, and then proceeded to spend hours investigating the crime scene, collecting evidence, taking photographs, making videos, using metal detectors to scan the area. They took their findings to the police station in
By morning, there were many journalists in front of the house, and at 8:30 József and his wife were called back to the police station for further questioning. They arrived home at noon, by that point their gate was gone, and the number of journalists was growing. This was when the police fenced off the house. József did not receive any documentation from the proceedings or his questioning. He was only notified through the media that the police had determined that the holes in the gate were not created by bullets. They also only read about the fact that the police had started an investigation regarding the disturbance of the peace.
On Tuesday, the press reported that Barnabás Tamás, the Fidesz mayor of Putnok, a member of the parliamentary police committee, gave a press conference in which he questioned whether the whole incident had been merely a nasty rumor, and he said he would investigate the issue.
“All I need is for the police to take me in because they believe I had made the whole thing up.” Days after the events, the family is contemplating leaving Putnok regardless of the fact that this is where they were born, and where they had lived their lives. Just because they reported to the police what they had observed, they are being humiliated and shamed, and are afraid that they will be punished without reason.
József explains that calling the police was the most natural reaction to hearing sounds similar to gunshots, because otherwise he might be accused of trying to hide something. “What we’ve learned from this is that we can never turn to the police. We have to solve all our problems by ourselves. They will not help us.”