Moscow pupil Sergei Gordeyev was always described as a model student, someone who earned the admiration of teachers and students alike with his academic prowess. Hours after the incident, others can only speculate as to what drove him to enter his Moscow high school on Monday armed with a rifle and shotgun. The end result was an entire classroom of hostages held and two people dead–one a police officer, the other a teacher of the classroom the shooter entered.
Early speculation is that Gordeyev must have been suffering from an emotional breakdown. While his school record seems to have been immaculate, at least one peer described him as someone who tended to get flighty when something didn’t go his way, such as when he received an unexpected bad grade.
The 15-year-old arrived on the premises carrying two guns he took from his father. The guns were legally owned and taken without consent. According to eye witness reports from fellow students, Gordeyev knocked on the door to the classroom shortly before a lesson was set to begin and then shot Geography teacher Andrei Nikolayevich. Upon learning that the teacher was not dead, he approached him and shot him again.
Gordeyev then addressed his classmates, informing them that he wished for none of them to die. He was so afraid of death, he said, that he simply wanted to see for himself what it looked like in person. Gordeyev later shot at two police officers who were alerted to the shootings and attempted to enter the classroom, wounding one and killing the other.
All the while, the local police was on the phone with the shooter’s father, who got into contact with his son over the phone and spoke with him at length. Eventually, he was brought to the school, equipped with a bullet-proof vest, and sent into the classroom to talk to his son. After a discussion that went on for about 15 minutes, Gordeyev was persuaded to let the hostages go. After giving father and son a moment to speak alone afterwards, police entered the room and took the suspect into custody with no further damage having been done.
Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin has been quoted as saying that he would like to conduct a complete review of how the local school security systems are working, and what steps might need to be taken to ensure acts such as these do not occur in the future. Gordeyev did encounter a school guard upon attempting to enter his school, and although he was not detained from proceeding, the guard did set off an alarm that alerted the police to the scene.
While school shootings such as these have occurred with alarming regularity in the United States, it hasn’t been nearly as common in Russia. The country’s last notable incident of such magnitude took place in 2004, when Islamic separatists targeted a school in Beslan. The three-day stand-off resulted in over 1,100 hostages taken and nearly 400 deaths. The Moscow shooting comes at an especially noteworthy time, as Russia is just mere days away from hosting the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
by Spencer Hendricks