Russian authorities say the death toll in a shooting rampage at a technical school in Ukraine’s Moscow-annexed Crimea region has risen to 21, including the suspected shooter. The Russia-imposed head of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, told reporters on October 18 in the Crimean city of Kerch, where the attack took place a day earlier, that a 16-year-old girl heavily injured in the shooting died in the regional capital, Simferopol, where she was waiting to be airlifted to Moscow for treatment.
Russian media reports quoted unnamed officials of the Health Ministry as saying that the girl sustained very serious wounds and it was impossible to save her.
Russian investigators identified the suspected shooter as Vladislav Roslyakov, an 18-year-old student at the technical college, and said he committed suicide. In the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the attack a “result of globalization” and said that adults are failing to offer young people an alternative to an outburst of violence.
Kerch Deputy Mayor Dilyaver Melgaziyev said earlier that all the victims of the attack had been identified, adding that five of them were college employees and the rest were students, of whom seven were younger than 18. Russian Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova said earlier that a total of 70 people were wounded in the attack, with several in critical condition being airlifted to top Russian hospitals for surgery. Dozens more remain hospitalized in Kerch.
Aksyonov said earlier that the first victim will be buried later on October 18. Authorities and eyewitnesses say the teenager walked calmly through the Kerch polytechnic school shooting people seemingly indiscriminately with a shotgun before turning it on himself. Aksyonov described Roslyakov, a fourth-year student, as a shy boy who had no known friends and a good record in school.
“What he published on his [social media] account was not open to the public. Access to his account was restricted; he didn’t have any friends,” Aksyonov told Rossia-24 television.
“He wasn’t aggressive, he was rather timid,” Aksyonov said, speculating that Roslyakov might have “watched some movies” that inspired him to go on the shooting spree.
“He was walking around and shooting students and teachers in cold blood,”
The announcement that the shooter was a student who acted alone came after hours of shifting explanations as to what happened at the school, with investigators initially saying it might have been a terrorist attack. In the immediate aftermath of the incident, the authorities declared an emergency in Crimea and Russia sent National Guard troops to protect schools and a new 19-kilometer bridge connecting Crimea with Russia. Speaking at a conference in Sochi on October 18, Putin said that the attack was a continuation of an American trend.
Since 2013, there have been more that 300 school shootings in the United States, according to the U.S. nonprofit organization Everytown for Gun Safety. Putin said that such attacks showed that adults were failing to “fast-changing realities” in which unstable young people were creating “fake heroes” and “reaching out for a surrogate for heroism.”
The attack in Kerch was the greatest loss of life in school violence in Russia since the Beslan attack by Chechen separatists in September 2004, in which 333 people — many of them children — were killed during a three-day siege. While such school shootings are rare in Ukraine and Russia, which illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014, AP reported that the bloodbath raised questions about school security, as the Kerch school had only a front desk with no security guards.
Lawmakers in Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada and Russia’s State Duma separately commemorated the victims with a minute of silence on October 18. Aksyonov said on October 18 that although the perpetrator “certainly was alone when killing people in the college, but he could not have been able to prepare the rampage by himself only,” adding that investigators were looking for possible accomplices.
His statement came after some witnesses said more than one person was involved, with one saying a bomb with shrapnel that went off in the school lunchroom during the siege was set off by a second attacker.
Earlier, Aksyonov said Roslyakov made the bomb himself and set it off while using a shotgun he recently acquired and 150 cartridges he bought just a few days ago to conduct his deadly shooting spree.
Aksyonov said Roslyakov had recently received a permit to own the shotgun after passing routine background checks.