Several killed in shooting at Russian university

People jumped from windows and locked themselves in rooms as a university student in Perm killed at least six people.

Russia's Investigative Committee said the attacker had been identified as a student at the university [Olga Yushkova/AFP]

At least six people were killed as a student opened fire at a university in the Russian city of Perm, the second mass shooting this year in a country where such incidents are usually rare.

The suspect was detained shortly after launching the attack on Monday morning at Perm State University, which is about 1,300km (800 miles) east of the capital, Moscow.

Russia’s Investigative Committee said the attacker had been identified as a student at the university. It has opened a murder probe into the incident.

The death toll had previously been stated as eight, but was later revised to six.

More than 20 people were injured, several with bullet wounds. The severity of the injuries was not immediately clear.

Police are seen near the scene after a student opened fire at the Perm State University in Perm, Russia, September 20, 2021 [Maksim Kimerling/Reuters]

Local media footage showed students fleeing the attack, with some seen jumping from first-floor windows to escape the university, landing heavily on the ground before running to safety.

Students built barricades out of chairs to prevent the shooter from entering their classrooms, they said.

“There were about 60 people in the classroom. We closed the door and barricaded it with chairs,” student Semyon Karyakin told Reuters.

The university, which has 12,000 students enrolled, said about 3,000 people were on the campus at the time of the shooting. It had urged those who could leave the campus to do so.

Law enforcement officers work near the scene after a gunman opened fire at the Perm State University in Perm, Russia, September 20, 2021, in this still image taken from video [Anna Vikhareva/Reuters]

Russia has strict restrictions on civilian firearm ownership but some categories of guns are available to buy for hunting, self-defence or sport, once would-be owners have passed tests and met other requirements.

Monday’s suspect used a gun designed to fire non-lethal rubber or plastic projectiles, The Associated Press news agency reported, citing the Perm State University’s press service.

Such weapons can be modified to fire other ammunition.

Russian presidential spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said, “As it looks, we are talking about some deviations of a young man who has committed these killings and I think that specialists have to deal with this and understand what the reason behind this tragedy was.”

People stand behind the fence near the Perm State University with the Posguardia (National Guard) on the left, in Perm, Russia, Monday, September 20, 2021 [Anastasia Yakovleva/AP]

School and university shootings are relatively rare in Russia.

But on May 11 this year, a teenager in Kazan killed seven children and two teachers at a school, prompting President Vladimir Putin to tighten gun-ownership laws.

Russia raised the legal age to buy firearms from 18 to 21 after the Kazan shooting, but the new law has yet to come into force.

That was Russia’s deadliest school shooting since 2018, when a student at a college in Russian-annexed Crimea killed 20 people before turning his gun on himself.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies