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Russian officials reportedly thwarted a small-town school shooting, but law enforcement won't comment

Source: Meduza

On September 3, journalists in the Sverdlovsk region reported that local officials have prevented a shooting spree in the town of Kushva. According to the Nizhny-Tagil-based publication Mezhdu Strok (Between the Lines), two 16-year-olds planned to kill their classmates at the local №1 high school and the Baranchinsky Electromechanical Technical Institute (located near Kushva). Since June 2019, the two teenagers reportedly obsessed online over the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in the U.S., and searched for firearms and explosives.

Where is Kushva? It's here.

The website says it has a source in law enforcement that confirms these reports. “They actively sought explosives, and their intentions were very serious,” the source said. “They planned to trap everyone, open fire, and blow them up. But the authorities responded in time.”

The Federal Security Service and local police reportedly learned about the teenagers’ plans by monitoring their online correspondence. A source confirmed to the news agency TASS that the two suspects discussed their plan to seize control of the school: “The attack was prevented because their correspondence on social media was discovered.”

The newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda reported that the attack was planned for September 10 (though TASS says it was supposed to take place on September 1), and one of the young men allegedly told a female friend about it, in advance. The newspaper also published screenshots of apparent private correspondence between the two suspects. KP claims that both teenagers are from affluent families, though reported the opposite. Both individuals will apparently face felony charges for planning multiple homicides.

Citing one of the suspects’ friends, the Telegram channel Baza reported that one of the two teenagers was beaten up about a year ago, and allegedly sought revenge against his attackers. Baza also says the two suspects had already assembled an arsenal that included a handgun, body armor, and a shotgun. The newspaper Argumenty i Fakty reported the same information, quoting a student at the Baranchinsky Electromechanical Technical Institute, who said, “They beat him up about a year ago. I guess it was some of our students. So he decided to get his revenge.”

No authorities from the local branches of the Investigative Committee, Federal Security Service, or Interior Ministry have commented on the teenagers’ arrests. So far, the only official indication that these individuals are now in custody comes from Sverdlovsk regional Education Minister Yuri Biktuganov, who acknowledged on Facebook: “Local FSB agents and anti-extremism unit police officers have identified two 16-year-old teenagers who planned a mass murder in the town of Kushva.” Several news agencies, including TASS, quoted Biktuganov’s post, though he later redacted all mention of the arrests. 

Representatives of Kushva’s №1 high school told Interfax-Ural journalists that an investigation is ongoing. School officials, local state investigators, and the local courts refused to speak to Meduza.

Text by Oleg Zurman

Translation by Kevin Rothrock