At least six people have been killed and 24 wounded in a shooting on campus at Perm state university, 700 miles east of Moscow in the Russian Urals.
In chaotic scenes captured on trembling mobile phones, a young gunman approached building number 8, a central hall housing the geography faculty, shortly after 11.30am local time. Other footage shows desperate students jumping from first-floor windows of the building. The students and staff that could react barricaded themselves into classrooms, using tables and chairs to block the doors.
Lev Zenkov, a student who was attending a lecture on the fourth floor of the building, told The Independent that the shooting lasted for “20 to 30 minutes.” The gunman roamed the ground and first floors, he said, before leaving for the adjacent chemistry faculty.
"Everyone is in shock and tears," added Mr Zenkov.
He said police arrived relatively quickly, within a few minutes of the shooting starting, and were joined by specialist units “within 5 to 10 minutes”. Such a rapid response may have saved many lives. The gunman appears to have fired his way into the campus, killing a security guard before the alarm was raised.
The Investigative Committee said six people were killed, revising down its earlier figure of eight dead. No explanation was given for the change. The Health ministry said 24 were injured, nine critically.
A police spokesperson said they had shot and wounded the gunman before detaining him.
President Vladimir Putin had ordered a ministerial delegation to Perm within hours of the shooting to organise assistance to victims’ families.
“It is a tremendous tragedy, not only for the families who lost their children but for the entire country,” Putin said.
Local media have identified the assailant as 18-year-old Timur Bekmansurov. In a social media post written shortly before the attack, he explained the process of obtaining a gun license – successfully passing psychiatric tests – and said he chose the university because it had “committed a serious mistake” four years ago.
The text appears to show a young man in a distressed mental state.
“However long I’ve known myself, I’ve always thought of death,” it reads. “I don’t know how many I can kill, but I will do everything to take as many with me as I can.”
A spokesman for the Russian national guard confirmed the gunman had legally obtained a firearms licence.
Mass shootings are relatively rare events in Russia, given the presence of strict gun controls. But they appear to be on the increase. In May this year, a student in Kazan attacked his former school, killing nine.
It followed a major attack three years earlier in Kerch – in annexed Crimea – when 18-year-old Vladislav Roslyakov killed 20 of his fellow students in the country’s worst mass shooting since the 2004 terror attack in Beslan, where 333 died, many of them youngsters.