A gunman attacked a school Tuesday morning (local time) in the Russian city of Kazan, sending students running out of the building as smoke poured from its windows. At least eight people were killed in the attack — seven eighth-grade students and a teacher — and 21 others were hospitalised, Russian officials said.
Footage released by Russian media outlets showed students dressed in black and white running out of the building. Another video depicted shattered windows, billowing smoke and sounds resembling gunshots in the background. Dozens of ambulances lined up at the school’s entrance after the attack and police fenced off access to the building.
Russian media said while some students were able to escape, others were trapped inside during the ordeal. All students were eventually evacuated to nearby day care centers and collected by their families.
Officials said the attacker has been arrested and police opened a criminal investigation into the shooting.
Rustam Minnikhanov, governor of the Tatarstan republic where Kazan is the capital, said four boys and three girls, all eighth-grade students, died in the shooting. His press service later said a teacher was also killed.
“The terrorist has been arrested, (he is) 19 years old. A firearm is registered in his name. Other accomplices haven’t been established, an investigation is underway,” Minnikhanov said after visiting the school.
Authorities said additional security measures were immediately put into place in all schools in Kazan, a city 700 kilometres east of Moscow. They also announced a day of mourning on Wednesday to honor the victims of the shooting, and said all lessons will be cancelled in Kazan schools that day.
According to Tatarstan health officials, 21 people were hospitalised with wounds after the attack, including 18 children, six of whom were in “severely grave condition.”
While school shootings are relatively rare in Russia, there have been several violent attacks on schools in recent years, mostly by students.
Russian media said the shooter was a former student of the school who reportedly called himself “a god” on his account in the messaging app Telegram and promised to “kill a large amount of biomass” on the morning of the shooting. The account was blocked by Telegram after the attack, the independent news outlet Meduza said.
Russian lawmaker Alexander Khinshtein said on Telegram that the man received his gun license less than two weeks ago. Khinshtein also said the school didn’t have any security aside from a panic button.
Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and wished a speedy recovery to the wounded, ordering the government to given them all the necessary assistance.
Putin also ordered Victor Zolotov, head of Russia’s National Guard, to revise regulations on the types of weapons allowed for civilian use in light of the attack.
Russia’s Emergency Ministry sent a plane with doctors and medical equipment to Kazan and two leading officials, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko and Education Minister Sergei Kravtsov, also headed to the region.
Russia’s state RIA Novosti news agency initially said 11 people had been killed in the Kazan shooting but later dropped that report.
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