Video footage shared on social media showed students hurling themselves from third-floor windows to escape the gunfire in Kazan, about 500 miles east of Moscow. Two children died jumping from the windows, according to the RIA news agency.
The students killed were between the ages of 7 and 9, officials said. The alleged shooter was taken into custody, said the head of the Tatarstan region, Rustam Minnikhanov.
An account on the Telegram messaging app, purportedly belonging to the alleged shooter, contained posts in which he described himself as a "god" and said he planned to kill a "huge number" of people before committing suicide, according to Russian media. The account was later blocked.
Speaking to local reporters in Kazan, Minnikhanov described the suspect as a "19-year-old terrorist" whose weapon was registered in his name and that "no accomplices have been established."
Putin ordered a plane with medics, psychologists and equipment to be dispatched to Kazan to assist the victims. He has also instructed the head of the Russian National Guard to "urgently" draft a new regulation on what kind of weapons can be owned by civilians, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Russia's laws on civilian gun ownership are considered strict. To obtain a license for hunting and sport firearms, applicants are required to pass psychological exams. It is illegal for Russians to own guns that shoot in bursts or have magazines with more than a 10-cartridge capacity.
"The thing is that firearms, which are used as assault rifles and similar weapons in certain countries, are sometimes registered as hunting guns. The Russian National Guard will urgently consider the issue," Peskov said.
Lawmaker Alexander Khinshtein wrote on Telegram that the suspect registered a Hatsan Escort, a Turkish-made shotgun, on April 28. It's the same kind of gun that was used in a 2018 school shooting at a college in Russian-annexed Crimea.
School shootings are a relative rarity in Russia. A 2004 assault on a school in Beslan in the North Caucasus, in which more than 330 people were killed, was the work of Islamist separatists. In 2014, a teenage student in Moscow shot a teacher and a police officer and took more than 20 of his classmates hostage.
Since then, more than 20 incidents involving weapons have been recorded in schools and colleges across Russia.
Published : May 12, 2021
By : The Washington Post · Isabelle Khurshudyan