UDMURTIA, RUSSIA – On September 26th, a 34-year-old gunman who in some reports was described as being a possible Neo-Nazi who admired the 1999 Columbine shooting reportedly carried out a mass shooting at a school in central Russia that left 17 dead and 24 others wounded.
Officials say the shooting took place at School No. 88 in Izhevsk, Udmurtia, identifying the gunman as 34-year-old Artyom Kazantsev. Authorities confirm Kazantsev was a former student at the school but have yet to release details regarding a possible motive.
Of the 17 victims killed in the shooting, 11 were identified as children, and 22 out of the 24 wounded victims were also children. Udmurtia’s governor, Alexander Brechalov, confirmed that Kazantsev turned the gun on himself following the attack.
Footage was reportedly captured from inside of the school amid the police response, where students and staff could be seen being rushed out of the building.
Russia’s National Guard described the two firearms used in the attack as being “non-lethal handguns” that were modified to fire live ammunition, with officials emphasizing these modified firearms were not registered with authorities.
Specifics on the ages of the victims weren’t shared by authorities, but the school reportedly educates children between grades one through eleven. The school has since been evacuated, along with the surrounding area being cordoned off.
Few details about Kazantsev have been shared by authorities, but he was said to have been wearing a black shirt with a red swastika crudely painted on the garment. Governor Brechalov also noted that Kazantsev “was registered as a patient at a psychiatric facility,” according to the Associated Press.
Furthermore, the New York Post reported the gunman was found with “braided keychains that made clear he was inspired by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who killed 13 during a 1999 assault on Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado,” with the keychains allegedly bearing the words “Columbine” and the names of the two shooters involved in the 1999 school shooting.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for the Kremlin, stated that officials are treating the matter as “a terrorist attack” and confirmed that President Vladimir Putin has forwarded all the necessary orders to authorities overseeing the case.
Speaking with reporters, Peskov shared the condolences of Putin, saying, “President Putin deeply mourns deaths of people and children in the school, where a terrorist act took place.”
Russian Investigative Committee Chairman Alexander Bastrykin also issued a statement following the tragic shooting, saying, “I express my deep, sincere condolences to the relatives and friends of those who died as a result of the cynical and ruthless attack on the school in Izhevsk. The monstrous crime claimed the lives of children, including very young ones and adults. This is a terrible tragedy, a heavy loss for all of us.”
This latest school shooting in Russia comes five months to the day from a shooting at a kindergarten in the central Russian town of Veshkayma, where two children – ages five and six – and a female staff member were gunned down by a 26-year-old male who shot himself after the incident.