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Gunman with swastika shirt kills 15 at Russian school

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Published: 09:31 BST, 26 September 2022 | Updated: 19:02 BST, 26 September 2022

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Pictures have emerged of a Russian gunman who killed at least 15 – including 11 children – in a school shooting rampage apparently inspired by the Columbine massacre.

Terrified pupils jumped from windows and cowered in their classrooms as Artyom Kazantsev stalked the corridors of No. 88 school in Izhevsk – the capital of Russia’s Udmurt Republic roughly 600 miles east of Moscow.

The slaughter only came to an end when the 34-year-old – dressed in black and wearing a swastika t-shirt – turned his gun on himself in a classroom.

Cops later found him to be carrying key chains paying tribute to Columbine shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who staged an infamous school shooting in Colorado, USA, in 1999. 

One chain displayed the words ‘Eric’ and ‘Dylan’, while the other one read ‘Columbine’.

Kazantsev, a former pupil of No. 88 school, had also scrawled the word ‘hate’ on some of the ammo magazines he used.

Russian President Vladimir Putin denounced the shooting as an ‘inhuman terrorist attack’.

But a message thought to have been written by the attacker reposted to the Telegram messaging app read: ‘What happened is not a terrorist attack.

‘As the only reason for what happened, I ask you to cite hatred. I am not a member of any extremist organisations, I have no political demands.’

The shooter was identified as Artyom Kazantsev, a former pupil of school No. 88 who was born in 1988

Armed police are seen tearing up the stairs in pursuit of the gunman as primary school age children run down stairs and are hustled toward the exits by officers and teachers

Grieving family members are pictured at the scene of a school shooting in Izhevsk

Police later found the attacker dead in the school, having committed suicide. His motive is unknown, but he was clad all in black and wearing a balaclava

Gunman’s weapons bore personalised keychains paying tribute to Columbine school shooters. Images published of the attacker’s clothes also showed Nazi symbols

Ammunition magazines recovered from the shooter had the word ‘HATE!’ painted across them

Initial reports said two security guards and several children were wounded or killed in the No. 88 school in Izhevsk – the capital of Russia’s Udmurt Republic roughly 600 miles east of Moscow 

Video footage posted on the Telegram messaging app showed terrified children and a teacher sheltering inside in a biology classroom as the gunman roamed the halls.

An unnamed girl posted from inside the siege: ‘We are in biology class.

‘Moved from class to lab. The whole class is sitting and crying. They don’t tell us anything. Very scary.’

Another video saw children aged around nine or ten huddled in a classroom and crouched on the floor.

They can be heard whispering ‘Be Quiet!’ to each other.

Reports said school director Elena Semashko, 50, had locked herself and a wounded teenager in an office to avoid the attack. 

Artyom Kazantsev is pictured during his time at the No. 88 school in Izhevsk

The press service of the Ministry of Education stated that the head of the department, Sergei Kravtsov, has dispatched a delegation to the school in the wake of the attack to oversee the investigation.

A major operation was underway from Russian law enforcement to break the siege, until it transpired that the gunman had shot himself in room number 403.

Once the attack was over, footage showed wounded children being taken out of the school to waiting ambulances.

One – with apparent wounds – was carried out on top of a school desk.

The school has 982 students and 80 teachers.

Many of those affected were first graders – seven years old – according to reports.

Russia’s Investigative Committee confirmed the death toll of Kazantsev’s attack stands at 13, while 14 more were injured. 

Rescuers are seen carrying a wounded child on a stretcher to an ambulance outside of the school

Video footage posted on the Telegram messaging app showed terrified children and a teacher cowering inside in a biology classroom as they hid from the gunman

Ambulances are pictured outside the No. 88 school in Izhevsk as a victim lies on the ground by the roadside

A major operation was underway from Russian law enforcement to break the siege, until it transpired that the gunman had shot himself in room number 403

A police van is pictured outside the school in Izhevsk

Governor of Udmurtia Alexander Brechalov said: ‘We’ve got everything deployed at school 88. Special services, ambulance are all there. I am at the site, I’ll be reporting all updates.

‘So far, an unidentified person entered the school, killed a guard, it is already known that there are victims among children and wounded. Now the evacuation has ended.

Brechalov later reported: ‘It is already known that a guard was killed, there are victims among children, wounded… The attacker shot himself.’

Izhevsk is the headquarters of the Kalashnikov weapons empire and the birthplace of the famed AK-47 assault rifle, among many other small arms used the world over. 

The school is in the centre of Izhevsk, a city of about 650,000 residents, close to central government buildings. 

The attack came as another gunman opened fire inside a Russian military enlistment office in the far-eastern city of Irkutsk, leaving the chief military recruiter in critical condition.

This is the moment gunman Ruslan Zinin, 25 (far left and second right), walked into a Russian enlistment office in Irkutsk and shot military commissar Alexander Eliseev (second left)

Dramatic footage captured the moment the man walked up to the recruiter has he stood on stage in front of new conscripts and fired a single shot at point-blank range while shouting: ‘Nobody is going to fight!’.

The man – identified as Ruslan Zinin, 25 – was angry after his friend got called up to the army following Putin’s announcement of a partial military mobilisation amid the war in Ukraine.

Zinin had told his mother that he was going to the recruitment office to enlist voluntarily, according to local reports. 

Igor Kobzev, the governor of the Irkutsk region, said military commissar Alexander Eliseev was in ‘critical condition’ after the attack and that the shooter was arrested at the scene ‘and will definitely be punished.’

It comes as opposition to Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine grows after he gave the order to start conscripting men into the military, with a recruitment office in the Volgograd region fire-bombed overnight.

Mass shootings at schools and universities in Russia were rare until 2021, when the country was rocked by two separate killing sprees in the central Russian cities of Kazan and Perm that spurred lawmakers to tighten laws regulating access to guns.

In September 2021, a student dressed in black tactical clothing and helmet armed with a hunting rifle swept through Perm State University buildings killing six people, mostly women, and injuring two dozen others.

The gunman resisted arrest and was shot by law enforcement as he was apprehended and moved to a medical facility for treatment.

It was the second such attack that year, after a 19-year-old former student shot dead nine people at his old school in Kazan in May.

Investigators said that the gunman suffered from a mental impairment, but was deemed fit to receive a licence for the semi-automatic shotgun that he used.

On the day of that attack Putin called for a review of gun control laws and the age to acquire hunting rifles was increased from 18 to 21 and medical checks were strengthened.

Authorities have blamed foreign influence for previous school shootings, saying young Russians have been exposed online and through television to similar attacks in the United States and elsewhere.

Other high-profile shooting cases have taken place in Russia’s army, putting the issue of hazing in the spotlight in the country where military service is compulsory for men aged between 18 and 27.

In November 2020, a 20-year-old soldier killed three fellow servicemen at a military base near the city of Voronezh. In a similar attack in 2019, a young recruit shot dead eight servicemen, saying he faced bullying and harassment in the army.

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