At least 17 people have been killed in the Crimean city of Kerch after a college student went on a shooting rampage before turning the gun on himself.
Initial reports from Russian authorities claimed the deaths were caused by a gas explosion and then an explosive device filled with shrapnel that had been detonated inside the cafeteria of the Kerch Polytechnic College.
However, the latest statement from Russia's Investigative Committee made no mention of an explosive device.
“Investigators have promptly established the identity of a young man who had arrived at the college immediately before the incident and who, proceeding from a video recording, was holding a rifle in his hand. He turned out to be Vladislav Roslyakov, a fourth-year student from the college. His body with a gunshot wound was found in one of the college’s rooms.”
CCTV images of the 18-year-old student posted on social media show him carrying a rifle inside the college.
The Russian-backed leader of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, told reporters that the suspect in Wednesday’s attack shot himself.
“The suspected attacker shot himself. He was a fourth-year student of that college. His body was found in the library on the second floor," Aksyonov said, according to state-run news agency Tass.
“There were lots of corpses, corpses of kids, a real terrorist attack,” Olga Grebennikova, the college’s director, told local media.
"The motives and theories of this tragedy are thoroughly investigated," Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “The public will be informed about the results of this effort by the law enforcement agencies and special services.”
A spokesman for Putin earlier said the possibility that this was a terror attack “was being considered.” Another state-run news agency Interfax quoted a Russian national guard official describing the incident as a deliberate “terrorist act.”
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 in a move that triggered sanctions from the West. Since then Moscow has been supporting separatists fighting the Ukrainian government in eastern Ukraine, a conflict that has caused the deaths of at least 10,000 people.
Kerch is the city where Moscow recently completed a controversial 12-mile bridge linking Russia with the Crimean peninsula — despite the U.S. Treasury Department slapping sanctions on seven of the companies involved in its construction.
Cover: In this video grab medical workers treat injured people outside a college building in Kerch, Crimea, Russia, October 17, 2018. Catherine Keizo / Sputnik via AP