‘If you stay here, they'll kill you’ Eyewitnesses at Crimea's college shooting describe the mass murder of at least 19 people
At least 19 people were killed and nearly 40 were injured in gunfire and a series of explosions at the Kerch Polytechnic College in eastern Crimea on October 17, leading the city to declare a state of emergency and the peninsula to announce a three-day mourning period. Meduza collects some of the first eyewitness reports published in the Russian news media.
Semen Gavrilov, student
Source: Komsomolskaya Pravda
I honestly barely slept last night, and I was asleep by the end of class. This saved me. The blast woke me up. I took a look outside the classroom, and there was this guy going around with a gun, shooting everyone. I took cover, hoping that he wouldn’t hear me. In 10 minutes, the police showed up with their automatic weapons. I don’t know what happened with the shooter. When they started evacuating the building, getting out the students and teachers, I went with them. The window in the hallway where the bomb went off was blown out. Dead bodies were lying on the floor. All the walls were blackened.
Source: Business FM
We went into the school’s courtyard and a minute later everything exploded. Glass was flying everywhere, and the shooting started. I was running and saw how guys were just dropping, and blood was flying in every direction. My friend… Dasha… I didn’t see her again. There are a bunch of my friends there. I’m really scared…
Source: Business FM
I go out and hear the explosion, and somebody starts bolting through the doors, and it’s clear that people are falling. And then I hear the shooting start. Something big is going on. My friend who studies there was standing beside me, and she hear the blast, but she couldn’t figure out what had happened. And then a whole crowd of people comes running, and some guy grabs her and says: if you stay here, they’ll kill you. Do you hear that they’re shooting? She goes to run out together with this guy, and when they run by the window I realize that this kid… he shielded her, and they killed him. They fell, and she realized that she’d be killed, too, if she tried to get up. Then this kid’s friend tries to help her drag him [away], but they see that there’s nothing they can do for him. So they start to crawl, trying to get out of there, but the whole place is a nightmare by now. And there were two or maybe three explosions. I only heard one, but when I finally got up… I ran out to the road and heard that there had been a second blast.
Source: Govorit Moskva
We were waiting in a classroom. Less than 20 feet from us, there was a deafening explosion. The instructors came running in and said it was a fire. Everybody ran out, jumping fences, going wherever they could. While running, we could hear more explosions and gunfire. This was no gas tank. There were like five blasts. A second would go by, there’d be a gunshot, seven seconds would pass, then more shots. In group chats, people are writing that the people in the stairwell and cafeteria were all shot. A girl broke both her legs in one of the explosions. When we were running, we saw a girl lying unconscious, covered in blood. She was there in the courtyard, on her back and barely breathing.
Olga Grebennikova, the college’s director
At 11 a.m., I went to the technical inventory bureau to sign some internship contracts. [If I hadn't], I’d probably be a corpse now. Because [the gunman] was shot and killed, and so was his mother. There are bodies everywhere. Children’s bodies everywhere. This was a true act of terrorism. They stormed in… Exactly five or 10 minutes after I left, someone burst in. They blew up everything, all the glass went flying, and they blew up the hallway. Then they ran around, throwing explosive bags. Next they came running with their automatic guns, or I don’t know what they had, to the second floor, and they opened the classrooms and killed everyone — anyone they could find, who happened to be there. This was… Everybody here, they’re all ours… This was a true act of terrorism, no different from what happened in Beslan. I would be a corpse right now. Because all my people were shot and killed. Both children and staff were killed. I don’t know…
Natalia Panikorovskaya, desk clerk
I don’t know how they got in. There were children, they streamed in, I rang the bell, like usual, and let the kids in. As soon as the kids came inside, there was an explosion. I thought the television had blown up. Then there was a second blast. Then people started coming down the stairs, saying they’d heard shooting on the second floor. Nobody came through [the front entrance]. They could have entered from the back: we have a fence there that’s easy to get around. Coming in from the back, there are these little gates and no surveillance cameras. You could hop it easily. I heard the gunshots, called the police, and triggered the alarm. I think it was more than one shooter, and they had automatic guns — they were shooting in bursts. They bandaged me up, and I’m going back.