At least seventeen people were killed and around 50 injured at a college in the Black Sea region of Crimea Wednesday when a student first detonated an explosive and then went through the building firing at fellow pupils before killing himself, Russian law enforcement officials said.
The Russian National Anti-Terrorism Committee, a government body, said the explosion at the polytechnic school was caused by an “unidentified explosive device," according to Russia’s Tass state news agency.
Initially, a gas explosion was suspected to be the cause, but later it was revealed that an explosive device was used inside the college, which is a vocational school housing over 800 teenagers.
“There was a blast, all the glass shattered. And then armed people started running around, opening doors and shooting at everyone,” a college teacher told the investigators, according to an RT law enforcement source.
A student described fleeing from the college. “We were standing outside with friends. Then there was an explosion, all the windows blasted out. We ran, climbed over the fence. There were more explosions or some similar noise. We just ran as far as we could.”
18-year-old Vladislav Roslyakov turned up at the college in the city of Kerch Wednesday afternoon carrying a firearm and then began shooting. His body was later found in the college with what investigators said were self-inflicted gunshot wounds.
Russia's RBC TV interviewed a friend who said he "hated the technical school very much".
Many of the victims from Wednesday’s attacks were teenage students who suffered shrapnel and bullet wounds.
Four military planes were ready to evacuate the wounded and military hospital facilities were ready to accept victims if necessary, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said.
The director of the school, Olga Grebennikova, described the scene that she encountered when she entered the college building after the attack.
“There are bodies everywhere, children’s bodies everywhere. It was a real act of terrorism. They burst in five or 10 minutes after I’d left. They blew up everything in the hall, glass was flying,” Grebennikova told Crimean media outlets.
Initially, the incident was being treated as a “terrorist act” but later the law enforcement officials classified it as “mass murder.” Troops with armored personnel carriers were sent to the scene. Local parents were told to collect their children from the city’s schools and kindergartens for their safety.
President Vladimir Putin described it as a “tragic event” and expressed his condolences.