Moscow school hostage drama: Armed student, dead victims identified

Interior Ministry members in uniform and other authorities gather outside a high school, where a student shot a teacher and police officer dead and held more more than 20 other students hostage, on the outskirts of Moscow, on Monday, Feb 3, 2014.&nbs
Interior Ministry members in uniform and other authorities gather outside a high school, where a student shot a teacher and police officer dead and held more more than 20 other students hostage, on the outskirts of Moscow, on Monday, Feb 3, 2014. A rifle-wielding student killed a teacher and a policeman on Monday in a Moscow school hostage drama that unfolded amid security jitters preceding this week's Sochi Winter Olympic Games. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

MOSCOW (AFP) - A rifle-wielding student killed a teacher and a policeman on Monday in a Moscow school hostage drama that unfolded amid security jitters preceding this week's Sochi Winter Olympic Games.

Witnesses said the suspect - described as a "straight-A" pupil named Sergei Gordeyev - charged into School No. 263 and ordered a security guard to lead him to a specific classroom in the two-storey building on the northern outskirts of Moscow.

The hostage-taker then shot a 76-year-old geography teacher while roaming the school's hallways before bolting himself inside a room with about 20 terrified teenaged pupils and their biology instructor. The authorities said the suspect then took 11 shots from two small-calibre rifles at scores of police officers who had rushed to the scene.

Russia's Investigative Committee identified the victims as geography class teacher Andrei Kirillov and policeman Sergei Bushuyev.

The Russian Interior Ministry said the hostage-taker was detained during a police raid and that all the students left the building safe and unharmed. "They are all alive and well," Interior Ministry spokesman Andrei Pilipchuk told the state-run Vesti-24 news channel.

Live footage showed a group of children running from the white-and-pink building and an emergencies ministry police helicopter hovering above the snow-covered school yard.

Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said Gordeyev was an exemplary student who may have had a conflict over grades with one of his teachers.

"Sergei Gordeyev was a straight-A student," Mr Markin told reporters. "It appears that he had an emotional breakdown."

The suspect's classmates described his behaviour during the crisis as both calculated and callous.

"He shot the teacher in the stomach. Then he wanted to make sure that he was dead, so he fired another 'insurance' shot to the head," an unidentified female classmate was quoted as saying by the LifeNews.ru website.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said that extra security measures would immediately be taken across all schools in the city of 11.5 million people.

"I have made a decision to conduct a complete review of how our school security system is working, and to take additional steps," Mr Sobyanin said in televised remarks.

Such rampages are highly unusual in Russia and private gun ownership is low. The last major incident came last April when an assailant named Sergei Pomuzan killed six people outside a hunting store in the southwestern city of Belgorod.

Russian President Vladimir Putin - his personal and political prestige linked closely to the Games' success - was informed of the attack while holding a special Kremlin meeting on the arts.

"We have to raise a new generation of audiences with good cultural tastes, who understand and value theatre, drama and the musical arts," said Mr Putin.

"If this was being done already, perhaps we would have avoided a tragedy like the one we witnessed today in Moscow."

Security has been a prime concern for Putin because Sochi is located near the volatile North Caucasus region, where Russia has been battling an Islamist insurgency for most of the past two decades.

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