AFP/ Kazan, Russia
A Russian court has ordered that a teenager accused of killing nine students and staff in a school shooting spree be held in pre-trial detention, as his victims were laid to rest.
On Tuesday, a lone gunman identified as 19-year-old Ilnaz Galyaviev opened fire at School No. 175 in the central Russian city of Kazan, armed with a shotgun and at least one improvised explosive device.
Russia has relatively few school shootings, and the tragedy has sent shock waves across the country.
A court in Kazan has ordered that Galyaviev, who investigators say suffers from a brain disorder, be held in pre-trial detention for two months.
The suspect, who was dressed in black and wore handcuffs, looked calm in court.
An investigator in the case said Galyaviev had been formally charged with murder and pleaded guilty.
Earlier in the day the nine students and staff killed in the shooting spree were laid to rest while nine of the wounded were flown to Moscow for treatment.
Flags were flaying at half-mast throughout Kazan, the capital of the majority Muslim Russian region of Tatarstan.
Black-clad family members and students of Elvira Ignatieva – a 26-year-old English teacher who reportedly died while shielding pupils from the gunman – laid flowers and read the Koran at her grave during a funeral ceremony.
“My niece was like a shining star: she took off, lit up and faded away,” her aunt Anna Ignatieva told AFP, crying and wearing a black scarf.
Dozens of mourners carrying flowers and soft toys also congregated outside the school to commemorate the dead.
“This is a huge and unexpected loss,” Irina Krasnikova said. “We live in such a nice city. It’s hard to believe this happened.
“It didn’t happen to my children, but it is so painful, it’s hard to speak.”
Galyaviev has been described as a former student at the school who was recently dismissed from a local technical college for poor grades.
Svetlana Petrenko, a spokeswoman for the Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, said yesterday that Galyaviev suffered from a brain disorder and had repeatedly sought medical attention for severe headaches.
“His family has also noticed aggression and a quick temper in his behaviour since the beginning of this year,” she said.
On Tuesday, panic spread throughout the building, with some students jumping from windows to escape, as the attack took place.
The gunman was detained within about an hour, and Galyaviev was later shown in interrogation footage leaked online claiming he was God and that he had “a monster” inside him.
All the children killed were in Ignatieva’s eighth-grade class and believed to be aged 13 and 14.
The second staff member killed was a teaching assistant for younger students.
Twenty children, including some who sustained injuries while attempting to escape the school building, were being treated in hospital, regional authorities said yesterday, as were three adults.
Two students were in a critical condition.
After the attack, President Vladimir Putin offered condolences to the families of the victims and urged lawmakers to make the process of legally obtaining a firearm more strict.
The shooting also prompted calls among pro-Kremlin lawmakers for even tighter regulation on the Internet, which opposition figures in Russia say authorities use to suppress political dissent.
The speaker of the lower house of parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, called on lawmakers to discuss the possibility of removing Internet anonymity by requiring users to identify themselves to be allowed online.
Authorities have claimed that young Russians are being increasingly exposed to negative influences online, especially from the West.
The Russia-born founder of encrypted messenger Telegram, Pavel Durov, said yesterday that his team had “acted quickly” to block the gunman’s account, one hour after receiving initial complaints over his channel.
Buying firearms legally is not easy in Russia, although it is possible to register hunting rifles.
Officials noted that Galyaviev had undergone security and psychological tests to gain a licence for the weapon.
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