A ninth-grader attacks his class in Sterlitamak. This is Russia's fourth high school attack this year.
Nikolai Petrov / TASS
On the morning of April 18, a 17-year-old ninth-grade student in a special education class at a high school in Sterlitamak (the second biggest city in Bashkortostan) attacked his classmates with a knife. During a computer science class, he wounded a female classmate and the teacher, Yekaterina Pershina, before spraying lighter fluid and setting fire to the room. The flames triggered the school’s fire alarm, and one student suffered moderate injuries while leaping to safety from a second-story window. The attacker attempted suicide, but was detained before he could kill himself. First responders quickly extinguished the fire. Classes at the school were canceled for the rest of the day.
All four people injured in the attack were later hospitalized, and doctors described their condition as moderate. The female student has stab wounds and cuts to her chest and hands. The teacher, who also suffered a chest wound, underwent a successful surgery. The attacker sustained cuts to his neck.
The Investigative Committee has opened two criminal cases concerning the Bashkir school attack. One is for “the attempted homicide of two or more persons” and the other relates to “negligence on the part of officials charged with preventing juvenile crimes.” Investigators say there were previous warnings about the assailant’s past aggressive behavior. Regional police authorities, however, say they didn’t have a file open on the young man in question.
According to Russia’s National Guard, the school where the attack took place is equipped with an alarm button, and a private security guard promptly notified the relevant authorities about the incident. Bashkortostan head Rustem Khamitov has ordered the region’s schools to step up security measures in response to Wednesday’s violence. School administrators in Sterlitamak say they hope to repair the fire-damaged classroom within 24 hours. Classes are expected to resume on Thursday.
Social network users think they found the suspect’s VKontakte page. Apparently immediately before the attack, the young man shared a video about the 1999 Columbine school shooting in the United States. A female student who knew the young man told the news agency RIA Novosti that he was a “Columbiner.” The Telegram channel Mash posted screenshots of the supposed suspect’s personal messages, where he indicated that he had long planned the attack and discussed it with his peers. He apparently sought revenge against classmates who’d bullied him.
This is the fourth major attack on a Russian school since the beginning of the ear. On January 15, two teenagers with knives attacked students at a high school in Perm, injuring 15 people. On January 19, a ninth-grader attacked seventh-graders with an axe at a high school in Ulan-Ude, then set fire to the classroom, sending seven people to the hospital. The attackers in both these incidents also attempted suicide. On March 21, a 13-year-old girl at a high school in Shadrinsk started firing on classmates with an air pistol, wounding seven people.