Crimea death toll rises to 20; authorities question if shooter acted alone

Larry Hoffman
October 20, 2018

Students wept over the coffins of classmates Friday at the funeral of 20 people killed in a school shooting in Crimea dubbed the "Russian Columbine", the worst massacre of its kind in the region's history.

The top official in Crimea says 18 people have died and more than 40 have been wounded in an attack on a college in the Black Sea peninsula launched by one of its students. "It's a mass killing committed by one scumbag", Aksyonov said earlier on state television. Russian Federation in the past few years has seen several school shootings that authorities say were reportedly inspired by gun violence in the U.S.

Authorities said they were investigating if he had an accomplice in the October 17 shotgun massacre at Kerch Polytechnic College.

The Investigative Committee identified the shooter as Vladislav Roslyakov.

The Investigative Committee said it was still working to establish the motive for the attack that recalled similar shooting sprees carried out by students in US schools. Reuters reported the school is a technical college for teenage pupils.

Friends and relatives of Rolyakov, speaking to Russian and foreign media, have described him as a quiet, isolated young man from a troubled background, fascinated by guns.

The director of the school, Olga Grebennikova, described the scene that she encountered when she entered the college building after the attack.

Russian Federation annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, after the Black Sea peninsula's population voted overwhelmingly to secede from Ukraine and join Russian Federation, which had governed Crimea from the late 18 century until 1953, when it was transferred under Ukrainian jurisdiction. "Their condition has not deteriorated over the past days", he said.

An 18-year-old student, who later killed himself, was initially believed to be the only one to have been involved in the carnage at the Kerch Polytechnic College on Wednesday.

Sergei, whose shirt was covered in blood, said victims "were taken away in public transport, in minibusses and buses, with two or three people in each ambulance".

Numerous victims from Wednesday's attacks were teenage students who suffered shrapnel and bullet wounds.

Asked about possible plans to further restrict gun ownership in Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov urged caution and said the government would wait for the results of the investigation.

He killed 20 people and killed himself after the attack.

It called the shooting an "unprecedented crime in Russia", which has strict gun controls. They added that Roslyakov's body had gunshot wounds.

According to the RIA Novosti agency, security forces raided Roslyakov's parents' home following the killings.

"They are children and staff", the witness said.

Ordinary Russians and authorities are struggling to come to terms with the attack in a part of the world where school shootings are practically unheard of.

In April, another student stabbed a teacher and a fellow student in the Urals Mountains and then set fire to a classroom.

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