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'Мany Corpses Of Children': Witnesses Recount Horror Of Crimean School Shooting

The injured are tended to by rescuers outside the school.

In one call, a girl can be heard, panicked and sobbing.

There was an explosion, she said, “then he was shooting. We started running and jumping over the fence and tore my arm. You understand, shots were fired. We were running and the kids were just lying there.

“I can’t understand,” she continued. “My friend was killed right before my eyes. I saw how she fell and stopped moving. I saw how the guys were falling and blood spattering. All of this right before my eyes.”

The call was one of several published on October 17 by the Telegram channel Mash in the aftermath of a mass shooting at a college in the Crimean town of Kerch. At least 18 students and faculty were killed, and dozens more wounded from gunshot wounds, as well as an explosion.

Cell-phone video and footage shown on local TV showed a chaotic scene at the polytechnic college as students ran from the building where the shooting occurred.

In one cell-phone clip published on Twitter, shots can be heard as students try to escape:

Another appears to show bodies in a stairwell as students flee:

Russia’s Investigative Committee identified the shooter as an 18-year-old fourth-year student named Vladislav Roslyakov. The committee also said the incident had been tentatively classified as murder rather than terrorism, as was initially suspected.

A memorial for the victims in the Crimean capital, Simferopol
A memorial for the victims in the Crimean capital, Simferopol

That classification was noteworthy, given the persistent tensions on the Ukrainian peninsula, which was seized by Russia in 2014. Those tensions have spiked in recent days amid a dispute involving the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s effort to be independent of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Authorities said Roslyakov shot and killed himself before police arrived.

In a video posted by a local TV channel, Kerch TV, another woman, identified as Olga Grebennikova, director of the college, said there were "many corpses, many corpses of children" and called it "a real terrorist act, just like in Beslan.”

Beslan is the town in southern Russia where more than 1,000 children and adults were held hostage in an elementary school for three days in September 2004. The siege ended with more than 300 people killed.

In another audio recording published by Mash, an unnamed classmate recalled how he and another person had noticed Roslyakov at school with two backpacks, one black and the other gray, sitting on a couch in a hallway. The classmate said Roslyakov greeted them, and the classmate said he was surprised that Roslyakov had skipped class earlier that morning.

Another student, Semyon Gavrilov, told the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda that he had dozed off in class when the explosion occurred.

“I looked out of the classroom and there was this guy walking around with a gun, shooting everyone. I hid and hoped that he wouldn’t hear me. Ten minutes later, the police showed up with automatic weapons,” he was quoted as saying.

“When they started evacuating the building, getting the students and teachers out, I went with them. The window in the hallway where the bomb went off was blown out. Dead bodies were lying on the floor. All the walls were blackened,” he told the paper.

​Another student, identified only as Albina, said she and other students were in the school office when there was a deafening explosion.

“The teachers began to run and said that it was a fire. Everyone ran through the fences where they could. As we ran, you could hear explosions, gunshots,” she told the Moscow radio station Govorit Moskva. “There were five explosions. A second passed. Then another shot. Then seven seconds passed, and again.

“One girl had both her legs broken in the explosion. When we were fleeing, we saw an unconscious girl all covered in blood. She was lying in the inner courtyard, on her back, and she was barely breathing,” she told the radio station.

Yekaterina Keizo, a reporter working for radio station Kerch FM, said when she got to the scene not long after the shooting, "they were carrying the injured out of the building."

Keizo told RFE/RL that an eyewitness told her that two men had entered the college and that "one blew himself up in the cafeteria" while the other "walked around the rooms and shot everybody indiscriminately. He just shot everyone he saw."

There has been no confirmation of a second shooter.

Flowers and candles at a memorial by the Kremlin walls in Moscow
Flowers and candles at a memorial by the Kremlin walls in Moscow

And there was no immediate indication what had motivated Roslyakov or even the type of weaponry he had used.

A photograph taken from a school surveilliance camera that was published widely by Russian media purportedly showed Roslyakov carrying what appeared to be a shotgun or a hunting rifle. One report said he had obtained a hunting license earlier in October.

The newspaper RBK quoted an unnamed acquaintance of Roslyakov as saying that he “really hated the school because of evil teachers; he had hinted that he wanted to take revenge on them.

“He was always very reserved, from the very first year. He didn’t interact with anyone, only if he needed something for his studies,” another student told Komsomolsky Pravda.

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