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Unanswered questions about Crimea's college massacre

Source: Meduza
Krym 24 / TASS / Scanpix / LETA

Around noon on October 17, eighteen-year-old Vladislav Roslyakov opened fire on his classmates and instructors at Kerch Polytechnic College in eastern Crimea. He shot and killed 18 people and then turned his gun on himself. As federal investigators try to make sense of the tragedy, there are still many unanswered questions about this school massacre. Meduza reviews the biggest questions still unanswered on day one.

How did the shooter enter the building with a gun and explosives?

According to the news agency Moskva, the college had just installed a new security system a few weeks earlier, placing metal detectors and turnstiles at all the entrances. The upgrades were finished on September 20.

At the same time, at least one student at the college claims that nobody paid any real attention to the metal detectors, because everyone was always setting them off with their keys and mobile phones. The same student says there was no security guard at the school’s main entrance, and the college didn’t actually have any guards — just a front desk clerk. Russia’s National Guard has confirmed that the school employed no security guards, despite demands from the local government. The agency noted that the new requirement for guards was adopted only recently, and not all schools have managed to allocate the necessary budget resources.

What kind of firearm did Roslyakov use, and where did he get it?

Updated. Sergey Aksyonov, the head of the Crimean regional government, says the weapon Roslyakov used in the massacre was obtained legally. “The rifle was registered properly and belonged [to Roslyakov] legally. We’ll looking into this, as well,” Aksyonov said late on Wednesday.

How many explosions and bombs were there?

Federal investigators have acknowledged only a single explosion, though multiple eyewitnesses have described as many as three loud blasts (though it’s possible that they confused these sounds with gunfire). Sources told the news agency Interfax that officials neutralized at least two explosive devices.

It’s still unclear what damage the explosion caused. So far, investigators have attributed all the deaths to gunshots. There still isn’t precise information about all the hospitalized victims, and it’s unclear who among these people was hurt by bombs and who was shot, or what any of their conditions are.

Why did Vladislav Roslyakov go on a murderous rampage against his classmates?

The shooter left no note explaining his actions, no messages on social media, and he didn’t shout any slogans during the attack. It’s still unclear why he staged this massacre.

Some students at the college say Roslyakov was shy and stayed away from social media. One classmate claims Roslyakov “really hated the school because of its evil teachers.” The generally unreliable news agency FlashCrimea reported that Roslyakov staged the attack because a girl didn’t return his affections.

Because Roslyakov’s attack has bears certain similarities to the 1999 Columbine high school shooting (the killers in both cases committed suicide in the school’s library, after planting homemade bombs throughout the campus), Internet users have widely speculated that Roslyakov was obsessed with the Columbine attack. There is no real evidence for this theory, however.

How did the police respond?

It’s still not entirely clear how first responders acted during the attack. One eyewitness told reporters that paramedics arrived within 10 minutes of the shooting, and police got there five minutes later. It’s unclear if police officers immediately stormed the building or first started the evacuation. We also don’t know whether Roslyakov managed to kill some of his 18 victims after the police had already arrived. Some eyewitnesses claim they saw armed men (presumably police officers) pursuing a suspect and opening fire on other students, though there is no official verification of this information.

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