A gunman killed several children and a teacher in a school shooting incident in Kazan, southwest Russia, according to official statements from the regional governor.
Rustam Minnikhanov said Tuesday that four male and three female eighth-grade students died in the shooting. Twelve more children and four adults were hospitalised in the attack, Minnikhanov added. He made no mention of the death of a teacher, which had been in many of the early reports across various outlets. However, Minnikhanov's press service later added that a teacher was also killed.
“The terrorist has been arrested, (he is) 19 years old. A firearm is registered in his name. Other accomplices haven’t been established, an investigation is underway,” Rustam Minnikhanov said after visiting the school, adding that security had been restored.
Initial reportage from various national media outlets gave a somewhat distorted view of the incident. Interfax Agency reported that two gunmen had opened fire in the school, and one of them — a 17-year-old — had already been apprehended. Other reports have begun to suggest that a single shooter acted alone.
Russian media said the shooter was a former student of the school who reportedly called himself “God” on his account in the messaging app Telegram and promised to “kill a large amount of biomass” on the morning of the shooting. The account was blocked by Telegram after the attack, the independent news outlet Meduza said.
Russian lawmaker Alexander Khinshtein said on Telegram that the man received his gun license less than two weeks ago. Khinshtein also said the school didn’t have any security aside from a panic button.
Russian media outlets also have conflicting numbers for deaths and injuries as the full extent of the horrific incident is still unwinding, but the latest report from Tatarstan health officials says 21 people were hospitalised with wounds after the attack, including 18 children, six of them in intensive care.
In an earlier statement released by Kazan's mayor's office, the casualty figures were said to be "a total of 8 people, of whom 7 were children, and 4 more people were injured to the original figures (now 20).
"We are sorry for the loss, this is a terrible tragedy. We will try to keep you updated with further developments," the statement read.
Russia's National Anti-Terror Committee also released a statement. They are also only mentioning one attacker.
"An armed criminal opened fire at gymnasium No. 175, located on Jaudata Faizi Street. An anti-terrorist operation is being carried out on the territory adjacent to the gymnasium, and an appropriate legal regime has been introduced. The power structures are carrying out the necessary operational-search measures and investigative actions. The evacuation of students was carried out. The attacker was detained by law enforcement officers."
Local officials said some children were evacuated from the school but others still remained in the building. Authorities said additional security measures have been put into place in all schools in Kazan, the capital of Russia's Tatarstan region, roughly 700 kilometers (430 miles) east of Moscow.
An eyewitness who lives close by said: "There was one explosion, maybe two explosions. There was a strong bang, we jumped up and thought it was a truck. But then we heard alarms and ran out."
Authorities said additional security measures had been put into place in all schools in Kazan, the capital of Russia's Tatarstan region. Media reports say that May 12 will be a day of national mourning.
Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and those injured in the shooting and ordered the government to revise gun regulations in light of the attack. Russia's Emergency Ministry has sent a plane with doctors and medical equipment to Kazan.
While school shootings are relatively rare in Russia, there have been several violent attacks on schools in recent years, mostly carried out by students.