Russia school shooting kills 7 students and 2 employees

By Andrew E. Kramer

MOSCOW — Gunfire and explosions erupted at a school in central Russia on Tuesday (11), killing seven students and two school employees, according to witnesses and officials who blamed a teenager for the rare mass shooting in the country.

Within hours, President Vladimir Putin said he had ordered a tightening of Russia’s already restrictive laws on civilian ownership of guns, a move that is likely to be implemented in the country’s top-down political system.

“The thing is that firearms, which are used as assault rifles and similar weapons in certain countries, are sometimes registered as hunting guns,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. “The Russian National Guard will urgently consider the issue.”

In a scene of mayhem captured on cellphone videos, students jumped from windows and ran as shots rang out and the police and ambulances raced to the school in Kazan, a provincial capital about 450 miles east of Moscow.

Students and teachers in the upper floors of the school barricaded themselves in classrooms and waited for help, said Vyacheslav Yegoshin, 15, who witnessed the shooting from outside the building because he was late for school Tuesday morning.

“It was scary, and everybody was crying,” Yegoshin said in a telephone interview.

A regional governor, Rustam Minnikhanov, said seven students, one teacher and an employee of the school whose job he did not specify had died and more than 20 people were wounded. The wounded ranged in age from 7 to 62. Minnikhanov said a 19-year-old suspect was in custody.

Russia has strict laws governing civilian gun ownership. Applicants for a firearm’s licence must pass psychological exams and own a smoothbore shotgun for a trial period before obtaining a rifle. Pistol ownership is more tightly controlled, largely limited to those, such as retiring military officers, who are given a pistol as an award for their service.

A member of Russia’s Parliament, Alexander Khinshtein, said the attacker had obtained a gun licence on April 28 and had used a pump-action shotgun in the attack.

Pictures posted on social media described as scenes from inside the school after the shooting showed doors torn from their frames and debris in the hallways. It was not clear whether the doors had been ripped out during the attack or during the security service operation against the shooter.

-New York Times


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