Death toll in Crimean college attack rises to 18

Clay Curtis
October 20, 2018

AFP journalists in Kerch, a city on the Crimean peninsula annexed by Russian Federation in 2014, saw the college cordoned off by Russia's National Guard, the army and the police.

Kerch's deputy mayor, Dilyaver Melgaziyev, said on October 18 that all the victims had been identified, adding that 15 of them were students, and six of them were younger than 18, while the other five victims were college employees.

Russia's Investigative Committee named the shooter as 18-year-old Vladislav Roslyakov, a student at the college. More than 300 people were killed.

Soon after the attack, Russian officials said they were investigating the possibility that it was terrorism.

But a Russian national guard official said the incident was a deliberate "terrorist act".

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the attack on a college in Crimea was a tragedy and offered condolences to the victims' families. Security was also increased at a new 19-kilometre (12-mile) bridge linking the peninsula with Russian Federation, which opened earlier this year. Military units were deployed near the college to help emergency agencies.

Reports suggest the explosives contained metal and the blast was caused by a device placed in the cafeteria of the college.

The National Anti-Terrorism Committee's spokesman Andrei Przhezdomsky said the building is now being combed for other explosive devices.

More than 40 others were injured in what local press dubbed "Russia's Columbine", a reference to a 1999 U.S. high school massacre.

"He was walking around and shooting students and teachers in cold blood", said Sergei Aksyonov, the regional leader in Crimea. He looked around and saw a young man shooting at people, he said.

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"I locked the door, hoping he wouldn't hear me", Gavrilov told the paper. His body was later found in the college with what they said were self-inflicted gunshot wounds.

According to a source cited by the RIA Novosti state news agency, Roslyakov had legally acquired a gun licence and passed the necessary psychological tests to do so.

He said a student of the college was the sole attacker and killed himself.

Along with many other local residents, he questioned whether Roslyakov, also a student at the college, could have acted alone.

It called the shooting an "unprecedented crime in Russia", which has strict gun controls.

The head of a Crimean college said unknown gunmen had burst into the building, let off explosives, and started shooting anyone they saw.

Another witness who gave his name as Sergei and who worked nearby said in a video on the Kerch.tv website that he heard "a bang and shots".

There have also been several reports in the Russian media that the mother of the Kerch gunman may have been a Jehova's Witness, a group that Russia declared a year ago to be extremist.

"This person was under the strong influence of Western subculture", said Sergey Mikheyev, a political analyst speaking on a nightly current-affairs show on Russian state television.

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