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Russia Sends In National Guard After Crimea School-Shooting Rampage

Law enforcement officers at the scene of a deadly shooting rampage at a college in the port city of Kerch.

Authorities have declared an emergency on Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and Russia sent National Guard troops to protect schools and the bridge connecting with Russia after a teenager's shooting rampage killed as many as 20 people at a college in Kerch.

While the official death toll remained at 19, with more than 50 other people wounded, some in critical condition, the Russian state-run news agency TASS reported early on October 18 that 20 were reported dead after the body of another person was found.

It was not clear whether the 20th person was the teenager who authorities and eyewitnesses say walked calmly through the Kerch polytechnic school with a shotgun shooting people seemingly indiscriminately before committing suicide. TASS said all of those killed were either students or employees of the school.

The Russian-imposed head of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, described the alleged killer, identified as fourth-year student Vladislav Roslyakov, 18, as a shy boy who had no known friends and a good record in school.

"What he published on his [social media] account was not open to the public. Access to his account was restricted; he didn't have any friends," Aksyonov told Rossia-24 television.

"He wasn't aggressive, he was rather timid," Aksyonov said, speculating that Roslyakov might have "watched some movies" that inspired him to go on the shooting spree.

"He was walking around and shooting students and teachers in cold blood," Aksyonov said.

While such school shootings are rare in Ukraine and Russia, which illegally annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014, AP reported that the bloodbath raised questions about school security, as the Kerch school had only a front desk with no security guards.

After the shooting rampage, Russian National Guard troops could be seen encircling the school and AP reported that security was also increased at the new 19-kilometer bridge connecting Crimea with Russia.

The announcement that the shooter was a student who acted alone came after hours of shifting explanations as to what happened at the school, with investigators initially saying it might have been a terrorist attack.

Some witnesses said more than one person was involved, with one saying a bomb with shrapnel that went off in the school lunchroom during the siege was set off by a second attacker.

But Aksyonov said Roslyakov made the bomb himself and set it off while using a shotgun he recently acquired and 150 cartridges he bought just a few days ago to conduct his deadly shooting spree.

Aksyonov said Roslyakov had recently received a permit to own the shotgun after passing routine background checks.

With reporting by AP, TASS, Interfax, Rossia-24, Christopher Miller in Kyiv, RFE/RL's Russian Service, the Crimean desk of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, RIA Novosti, Mediazona, Dozhd, and Reuters