MOSCOW — A student armed with two rifles opened fire in a high school in Moscow on Monday morning, killing a geography teacher and a police officer as he held some two dozen students hostage in a rare case of gun violence in a school here.
The student, who was identified as Sergei Gordeyev, 15, initially battled police officers responding to the hostage crisis, killing one officer and wounding another, before his father entered the classroom in a bulletproof vest and persuaded him to surrender, the Moscow police chief, Anatoly Yakunin, told reporters.
Maria Shukvina, a ninth-grade student, described huddling in a classroom as gunshots echoed through the school.
“The school secretary came in, and she said not to let the children out,” Shukvina later said outside the school, where a police helicopter hovered over the scene even hours after Gordeyev had surrendered. “Then I heard a loud bang, and she came back and told us to get our things and get out as quickly as possible.”
Word of the shooting deeply unsettled the residential neighborhood of Otradnoye, where the head of Russia’s Investigative Committee and Internal Ministry flocked to supervise the investigation on Monday as agitated parents and students milled outside in subzero temperatures.
School shootings are rare here and mass shootings are often associated with terrorist attacks, including one at a school in the North Caucasus town of Beslan in 2004 that left more than 330 people dead, most of them children.
Police had not specified a motive in the attack by Monday evening, but Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the Russia’s Investigative Committee, suggested that Gordeyev may have suffered an “emotional breakdown.”
Markin said Gordeyev shot the geography teacher, Andrei Kirillov, point-blank.
“They said that Andrei Nikolayevich was lying on the floor with a bullet in the forehead and another in his chest,” said Yeva Akhmat, a student at a neighboring school that sheltered students fleeing the violence, referring to Kirillov. “They said he was still there when they left.”
In a video posted to the news site Lifenews, several students held hostage by Gordeyev denied that he had any previous conflict with the teacher or other students.
“He said that he wanted to know if there was life after death and came to the school to shoot before he died,” said the student, identified only by her first name, Lusya. “You could see in his eyes that he was scared.”
A classmate described Gordeyev as a strong student who seemed aloof.
“I don’t know if he was aggressive, but he was just strange,” said Anton Alifatov, a ninth-grader. “He was quiet but I didn’t think anything more of it.”