At least nine people, most of them eighth-grade students, were killed in a school shooting in the Russian city of Kazan on Tuesday, officials said.
A 19-year-old suspect who acted alone was taken into custody with his motive still under investigation, said authorities in the Tatarstan republic, where Kazan is the capital.
Around 20 people were taken to hospitals, some of them in critical condition. Among them, according to the regional Ministry of Education, were 18 children between the ages of 7 and 15. Citizens in Tatarstan were called upon to donate blood.
Among the dead were seven children and two adults, law enforcement sources told Russia's TASS news agency.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said medical specialists had been flown into to the Muslim-majority republic to aid local doctors.
The shooting took place on the first day of school following May holidays.
Television footage showed parents, fearing for the fate of their children, gathered in front of the cordoned-off school grounds. Some pupils were taken out of the building via ladders and moved to a nearby kindergartern. Other students sat injured on the pavement.
Witnesses told Russian media they had heard explosive sounds. Videos shared on social media showed smoke rising from a white building and sounds of screaming.
Children jumped from the windows of the third floor of the building, a local television broadcaster reported.
BREAKING: Mass shooting in a school in Russia’s city Kazan, multiple people killed. Students jumping off from the school’s window during the scene— Insider Paper (@TheInsiderPaper) May 11, 2021
The suspect had reportedly entered the school's main entrance, carrying a machine gun, and started shooting immediately. The gun was said to have been registered in the suspect's name.
According to media reports, he had recently been expelled from a vocational school for debts.
Russian media named him as Ilnaz Galyaviev. He was said to have graduated from school four years ago.
The TASS agency, citing security circles, reported "hatred" as a possible motive. The suspect, who had not been on the radar of law enforcement authorities, announced the shooting on Telegram shortly before it began, Russian media reported.
Tatarstan republic's leader, Rustam Minnikhanov, called the shootings a "great tragedy" and described the perpetrator a "terrorist."
But while an anti-terrorist operation had been declared early on in the investigation, later Tuesday officials said there was no longer any suspicion of terrorism.
The shooting spree horrified the country.
In the capital Moscow, lawmakers in the State Duma commemorated the victims with a minute of silence, while the Ministry of Education recommended that all Russian schools increase security.
Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences to the relatives of the victims.
"The president expresses his deepest condolences to the relatives of the children who died at the hands of the gunman and wishes a speedy recovery to the schoolchildren who were injured," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, according to Interfax news agency.
Gun ownership regulations
Putin also called for new new regulations on civilian gun ownership, the report said.
Russian schools had only reopened on Tuesday after a week-long holiday.
It was unclear whether guards were in place at school number 175 in Kazan. Many schools had introduced guards after earlier attacks on schools.
One of the worst shooting in Russian history occurred at a school in Beslan, North Ossetia, in 2004, when Chechen separatists took more than 1,000 teachers, students and parents hostage.
Two days later, Russian special forces stormed the hall. More than 300 people were killed, half of whom were children.
The most recent tragedy occurred at a vocational collage in October 2018, in the town of Kerch in Crimea, which has been annexed by Russia. An 18-year-old shot and killed 20 people, before he died after detonating an explosive device.