An 18-year-old student shot and killed 19 people and wounded more than 50 others at a technical college in Crimea Wednesday.
Police say the shooter was Vladislav Roslyakov, a fourth-year student at the college in the Black Sea city of Kerch. He was found dead at the scene of an apparent suicide.
Investigators and the college’s director said following an explosion, a gunman went through the building shooting anyone he saw at Kerch Polytechnic College.
“He was walking around and shooting students and teachers in cold blood,” said Sergei Aksyonov, the regional leader in Crimea, a peninsula Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, triggering a slew of Western sanctions against Moscow.
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov says Vladimir Putin ordered a thorough investigation and offered condolences to the victims’ families.
A local ombudswoman told Tass news agency most of the victims were students.
Of the 53 wounded, 12 were in critical condition. Officials said the shooter’s mother, who is a nurse, helped treat many of the wounded unaware that her son was responsible for the carnage or that he was dead.
Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova told Russian news agencies Thursday that authorities would airlift at least 10 people with severe injuries to Russian hospitals for surgery.
Most of the people killed died from gunshot wounds, and those who ended up hospitalized have injuries from a blast from an improvised explosive device that was packed with shrapnel.
“The kids’ muscles have been ‘?minced’ with small metal objects,” Skvortsova said, according to the Interfax news agency. “Those who have their organs ripped apart, we are finding metal balls in kidneys, intestines, in blood vessels. That is how powerful the blast was.”
President Putin said at a Moscow news conference more than one person may have been involved in the attack and that investigators are trying to determine a motive.
Russian officials provided various explanations about what actually happened. They first reported a gas explosion, then said an explosion occurred in the school’s cafeteria in a suspected terrorist attack.
Russia’s National Anti-terrorism Committee said all of the fatalities were the result of gunshot wounds after previous statements from other officials saying they died in the explosion. The committee later said the attack was a case of mass murder and not terrorism.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.