KAZAN, Russia -- A teenage gunman set off an explosion and opened fire at a school in the regional capital of the Russian republic of Tatarstan, killing nine people as hundreds fled the smoke-filled building, prompting President Vladimir Putin to order a clampdown on weapons.
Rustam Minnikhanov, the republic's president, said seven students, a teacher, and another female employee at the school were killed in the attack at School No. 175 on May 11, calling the crime "an enormous tragedy for our republic, for our country."
According to the Interior Ministry for the republic, 21 people were wounded in the incident, 18 of whom were students, including six children who were taken to intensive care units.
Video from the scene showed students scurrying from the school as smoke poured from its windows and loud noises resembling gunshots rang out. Afterward, dozens of ambulances lined up at the school's entrance.
Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry sent a plane with doctors and medical equipment to Kazan, a city 700 kilometers east of Moscow, while the health and education ministers, Mikhail Murashko and Sergei Kravtsov, also were dispatched to the region.
Within hours of the incident, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow that Putin had handed down a special order to the head of the Russian National Guard, Viktor Zolotov, "to hammer out new regulations on the types of weapons which are designated for civilian use, and which weapons may be in the possession of citizens, including the types of small arms the gunman used in this shooting."
"The fact is that sometimes hunting weapons are registered as small arms, which in some countries are used as assault rifles, and so on. This too will be swiftly hammered out by the National Guard," Peskov said.
Putin also ordered the government to assist the victims and their families. Russian officials promised to pay victims' families 1 million rubles (roughly $13,500) each and give 200,000-400,000 rubles to the wounded.
Teachers and students told RFE/RL that they heard a powerful explosion in the building before they heard gunshots. They said they fled the building after that, while some students jumped from third-floor windows to escape the scene.
The area was cordoned off by law enforcement and students and teachers at one point were seen being evacuated through the windows.
The region’s interior minister said that the assault was carried out by a 19-year-old shooter, who was apprehended. Earlier reports said there were at least two attackers.
Media reports identified the suspect as Ilnaz Galyaviyev.
According to Interfax, Galyaviyev was enrolled at a nearby business school, the Tatarstan University of Management, but was expelled one month ago for poor academic performance.
A seemingly shaken President Minnikhanov, who arrived at the school shortly after the attack, told reporters that the firearm used by the attacker was officially registered in his name.
A student at the school described what she saw to RFE/RL.
"We were having a Russian-language class when there was an explosion on the first floor. We ignored it. Then there were more and more explosions. The boys ran up to the windows and looked at the first floor. All the windows, doors, and desks were smashed," she recounted.
“We dragged all the desks to the door and shut it. Children on the second floor started jumping straight out of the windows,” one teacher told Current Time, the Russian-language network led by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA.
"We heard the sounds of explosions at the beginning of the second lesson. All the teachers locked the children in the classrooms. The shooting was on the third floor," said another teacher quoted by Tatar Inform, a local media outlet.
A corridor inside the school was shown strewn with debris, including smashed glass and broken doors, in unconfirmed video circulated by the Baza media outlet. Another still image showed a body on the floor of a blood-stained classroom.
Other footage showed emergency service vehicles parked outside the school, with people running towards the building.
The alleged gunman was issued a permit for a Hatsan Escort PS shotgun on April 28, Aleksandr Khinshtein, a lawmaker in the lower house of parliament, wrote on social media.
Authorities in Tatarstan ordered checks on all gun owners in the region.
The spokeswoman for Russia's Investigative Committee, Svetlana Petrenko, said a criminal case had been launched into the attack.
The government of Tatarstan declared May 12 as a day of mourning.
The school has more than 1,000 students.
Historically, attacks at schools in Russia and other former Soviet republics are uncommon. However, in recent years they have been on the rise.
In November 2019, a student was killed before the shooter later took his own life at a college in the far eastern city of Blagoveshchensk.
In October 2018, an 18-year-old student killed 20 people in a gun-and-bomb attack in a college in the city of Kerch in Russian-occupied Crimea before fatally shooting himself.
Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) has also reported several instances where it prevented school attacks across the country in recent years.