Footage shows desperate students jumping from first floor windows of the building
At least eight people have been killed and more wounded in a shooting on campus at Perm state university, 700 miles east of Moscow in the Russian Urals.
In chaotic scenes captured on trembling cellphones, a young gunman approached building number 8, a central hall housing the geography faculty, shortly after 11.30am local time. Other footage shows desperate students jumping from first floor windows of the building. The students and staff that could react barricaded themselves in to classrooms, using tables and chairs to block the doors.
Lev Zenkov, a student who was attending a lecture on the fourth floor of the building, told The Independent that the shooting lasted for “twenty to thirty minutes.” The gunman roamed the ground and first floors of the building, he said, before leaving for the adjacent Chemistry faculty.
“Everyone is in shock and tears,” he said.
Mr Zenkov said police arrived relatively quickly, within a few minutes of start of shooting, and were joined by specialist units “within 5-10 minutes.” That quick response likely saved many lives. The gunman appears to have fired his way into the campus, killing a security guard before he was able to trigger a panic button.
Just after 12pm local time, police authorities announced they had detained the gunman. Dmitry Makhonin, the regional governor, said he had died after being shot by police. Later reports cast doubt as to whether he was dead or seriously wounded.
Within an hour of the shooting, the Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin had ordered a ministerial delegation to Perm to organise assistance to victims’ families.
Local media have identified the assailant as 18 year old Timur Bekmansurov. In a social media post written just before the attack, Mr Bekmansurov explained the process of obtaining a shooting gun license — successfully passing psychiatric tests — and said he chose the university because it had “committed a serious mistake” four years ago.
The text appears to show a young man in a distressed mental state.
“However long I’ve known myself, I’ve always thought of death,” it reads. “I don’t know how many I can kill, but I will do everything to take as many with me as I can.”
A spokesman for the Russian national guard confirmed the gunman had legally obtained a firearms license.
Mass shootings are relatively rare events in Russia given the presence of relatively strict gun controls. But they appear to be on the increase. In May this year, a student in Kazan attacked his former school, killing nine. It followed a major attack three years earlier in Kerch, annexed Crimea, when 18-year old Vladislav Roslyakov killed 20 of his fellow students.
That was the most shooting incident since the 2004 terror attack in Beslan, where 333 died, many of them youngsters.
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