A policeman and a teacher have died after Sergey G, a 10th grade student, brought two rifles to his school and opened fire, apparently after quarrelling with his teacher.

The fire was opened at a school in the northern Moscow district of Otradnoe. Source: ITAR-TASS

At about 1140 on February 3, Sergey G., a 10th grade student, entered his school in Moscow's Otradnoye District armed with a hunting carbine and a small-caliber rifle.

There are turnstiles at the entrance to the school, but they were left open because the access cards were recently replaced, and not all the students had received their cards.

Nevertheless, a school guard managed to block the entrance after spotting the teenager carrying guns. Sergey G. then cocked the rifle, aimed it at the guard, and demanded to be led to the biology classroom.

Under Russian law, security guards are not allowed to carry firearms, so all the school guard managed to do was press the panic button to call the police before doing as he was told by the attacker.

The teenager then walked into the classroom and fired at Andrey Kirillov, a 30-year-old geography and biology teacher. The first short hit the teacher in the stomach; the attacker then approached his victim, asked him if he was still alive, and shot him again in the head after the teacher said yes.

The attacker then took the 10th grade students who were in the classroom hostage. When the police arrived at the scene, he started firing at them from a window, killing a 38-year-old officer and injuring his partner.

A reinforced police squad arrived at the scene shortly afterwards; a helicopter then landed at the school yard. The teenager’s father, wearing a bulletproof vest, entered the school to try to negotiate with his son. Sergey G. eventually agreed to release the hostages and was apprehended. None of the students was hurt during the incident.

Unlike the school shootings in the United States, the tragedy in Russia seems to have come as a result of a personal conflict between the student and his teacher spiraling out of control. The shooter’s classmates say he was a straight-A student hoping to graduate with distinction (which, incidentally, no longer makes it easier to enter a university in Russia).

According to one of the versions of what happened, Sergey G. had to work hard for his good grades, and sometimes resorted to simply memorizing the relevant passages from textbooks.

The geography teacher disapproved of such an approach to studying, and refused to give the student straight A's, jeopardizing his plans to graduate with distinction. Sergey and the teacher he killed had known each other for some years because the latter used to be the form master at Sergey’s class.

Sergey was born to a military family; his father and grandfather both served in the armed forces. The weapons Sergey used during his rampage belong to his father, who currently works for the Federal Security Service (FSB) and is a keen hunter.

The rifles were locked in a safe at the family home, but Sergey knew the combination. His page on the popular Russian social network VKontakte contains a single video clip, about the fastest shooter in the world. Apart from his interest in firearms, the teenager was taking instruction in combat sambo, a popular Russian martial art.

His classmates Anya and Liza have told the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily that he was a bit of an outsider at school. "He always looked as though he did not belong; when he made jokes, nobody laughed. He saw that, and he felt bad about it."

The children’s ombudsman Pavel Astakhov says the main priority now is to figure out why this tragedy happened, and how the teenager has come to this.

“It is obvious that the kid did not just make a spur of the moment decision,” Astakhov said. “Maybe he was so stressed out that he decided to copy the American school shootings.”