At least 19 killed in armed attack on Crimean college

Investigators say teenager carried out shooting and bomb attack before killing himself

 

At least 19 people were killed and more than 50 injured at a college in Russian-controlled Crimea on Wednesday, when a teenager launched a gun and bomb attack on fellow students and staff, officials in the region and Moscow said.

Investigators said Vladislav Roslyakov (18) detonated a home-made bomb in the cafeteria of the technical college in the town of Kerch and fired at people he encountered in the building, before shooting himself dead in its library.

Witnesses said the attack began at around midday, and by evening doctors said that of 35 victims being treated in hospital, eight were in a serious condition. Most of the injured are students suffering from bullet and shrapnel wounds.

“The motives for and theories about this tragedy are being carefully investigated,” said Russian president Vladimir Putin. “The public will be informed about the results of the work carried out by the law enforcement agencies and the special services.”

Sergei Aksyonov, who has led the Black Sea peninsula since Russia annexed it from Ukraine in 2014, said: “For Crimea, this is a terrible tragedy.”

“Of course, help will be provided to the parents, but the only thing we cannot do is bring back these lives. For all of us it is really a shock, there was never anything like this.”

Security camera images showed the blond-haired Roslyakov, dressed in black trousers and a white t-shirt, walking down stairs inside the college carrying a rifle. A fellow student said he had seen and exchanged greetings with Roslyakov shortly before the attack, and noticed that he had two rucksacks with him.

Another unnamed student told Russia’s RBK news outlet that Roslyakov “really hated the technical college because of nasty teachers, and he hinted that he would get revenge on them.”

‘Loud explosion’

There was confusion in the hours after the attack, with officials initially suspecting a gas explosion, then announcing an investigation into an act of terrorism, and then reclassifying the case as murder.

“Shooting broke out after an explosion,” said Crimea’s deputy prime minister, Igor Mikhailichenko. “The gunman opened fire with a hunting rifle. The motives are still unknown”.

The director of the college, Olga Grebennikova, said colleagues told her there were “bodies everywhere, children’s bodies everywhere. It was a real act of terrorism.”

An unidentified student said in a recording played on Russian media that the attack started with an explosion that “was really loud. It was totally unexpected and we were really scared...We didn’t know what to do and there was panic like I’ve never felt before.”

“From my group, everyone made it home. One girl I talked to on the phone helped a man who had five huge wounds from glass in his back. Children were covered in blood. It was really terrible,” she added.

On Russian television, discussion of the tragedy focused on why Roslyakov was not identified as potentially dangerous and how he legally acquired a hunting rifle.

“I don’t know the system for acquiring a weapon, I don’t own a weapon, but I didn’t think such young people could do it,” said Irina Kliuyeva, the ombudswoman for children’s rights in Crimea.

“We need to figure this out. Surely he had to have medical checks, psychologists, surely someone can’t get a permit for a weapon just like that, even if it’s a hunting weapon.”