• The San Juan Daily Star

Law student armed with shotgun kills at least 6 at Russian university

By Andrew E. Kramer

An 18-year-old law student wielding a shotgun went on a shooting spree on a Russian university campus Monday, killing at least six people and wounding 19, according to state media, government officials and a university spokeswoman.

Students described scenes of chaos, saying they barricaded themselves in classrooms and waited in terror while hearing shots and screams in their building, Russian media reported. Others escaped by jumping from second-story windows and running away. Police published a video showing hallways and a stairway covered in broken glass, spent shotgun shells and blood.

The gunman resisted arrest but was later wounded and taken into custody, law enforcement officials told local media.

RIA Novosti, a state news agency, posted videos showing a slender man dressed in black clothing, a black helmet and carrying a gun. He was identified as a student at Perm State University, where the shooting took place, about 650 miles east of Moscow.

While still rare, school shootings have become more common in Russia in recent years. According to state media reports that cited the Investigative Committee, a law enforcement agency, the gunman obtained the shotgun legally in May.

This was the second mass shooting at a Russian school this year. In May, an attacker killed seven students and two school employees in Kazan, another provincial Russian city.

News of the attack came as a searing intrusion, with scenes of mayhem posted by media outlets, as election officials completed the count from a parliamentary vote over the weekend that had been marred by accusations of falsifications and repression of the opposition.

But there were no initial indications of a political motive in the shooting. The Kremlin said the gunman was likely disturbed but declined to comment further.

A member of Parliament, Alexander Khinshtein, identified the gunman as 18-year-old Timur Bekmansurov and said he was a law student at the university.

A lengthy social media post attributed to the gunman went up shortly before the attack Monday, and local media published it. It was a misanthropic screed stretching to several pages, suggesting a lifelong fascination with violence. He did not hint at a political motive.

Social media company Vkontakte blocked his account Monday.

University spokesperson Natalia Pechishcheva initially said the attacker had been “liquidated” but revised the account later and said he was in police custody.}

The campus, which has about 13,000 students, was equipped with an alarm system to alert them to danger. But it was not immediately activated because the gunman shot a security guard near an entrance whose job it was to trigger the alert, RBK, a Russian newspaper, reported.

RIA cited the Investigative Committee as saying eight people had died, but the Russian Ministry of Health put the death toll at six people.

A traffic policeman who was one of the first law enforcement officers at the scene shot and wounded the attacker, and then detained him.

“We saw how people were running out of the university, fleeing the building, and shooting could be heard,” the police officer, Konstantin Kalinin, said in a video released by RIA. A partner directed students away from the building, and Kalinin went inside.

“I ran into the building on the first floor and saw how an armed young man was walking down the stairs,” he said. “I yelled at him ‘drop it,’ and the young man aimed his gun at me and fired. After that, I used my firearm.” The police officer was not wounded.

The Russian government dispatched a plane from Moscow with emergency medical supplies and doctors. Health ministry officials and other senior officials flew to the region. President Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences.

In 2018 at a college in Kerch, a town in Russian-occupied Crimea, 21 people were killed and 50 were wounded in a shooting. Other less lethal incidents in schools and colleges followed, including attacks with air guns and an ax attack in Ulan-Ude, a city in Siberia, that wounded a teacher.

By far the worst violence at a Russian school in recent history was the 2004 attack by Chechen terrorists in the city of Beslan that killed 186 children and 148 parents and teachers.

Under Russia’s strict gun ownership laws, applicants for a firearm license 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.

After the school shooting in May, Putin ordered a further tightening of Russia’s laws on civilian gun ownership, raising the minimum age to buy a gun from 18 to 21. That rule has not yet taken effect.

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