A former convict detained overnight on suspicion of killing six people in Belgorod refused to speak with investigators Wednesday about the biggest shooting spree in recent memory.
Sergei Pomazun, 32, cited his constitutional right not to incriminate himself for his decision to remain silent, Interfax reported.Pomazun was detained Tuesday night as he tried to flee Belgorod on a freight train, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
As police sought to detain him, Pomazun put up armed resistance and seriously wounded a 42-year-old officer with a knife, they said in a separate statement. The policeman received four stab wounds, including to the shoulder and face, and was hospitalized in stable condition, Interfax said.
Pomazun is suspected of entering a weapons store in Belgorod, a city of 356,000 just 40 kilometers north of the Ukrainian border, on Monday and opening fire on shop assistants who refused to sell him a firearm, police said. The gunman then exited the store and fired at passersby on the street, presumably to kill possible witnesses. Five died on the spot, including a 14-year-old girl, while a sixth person, a 16-year-old girl, died in the hospital.
Russia has strict gun control laws, and shootings like the one Monday are rare.
Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev, who took personally control of the investigation after arriving to Belgorod on Tuesday, offered "incentives" to police officers who helped detain Pomazun, the ministry said without elaborating.
Police also offered a 3 million ruble ($95,000) reward for information leading to his arrest.
About 2,000 law enforcement officers from Moscow and the regions of Belgorod, Kursk and Voronezh had mounted a manhunt for Pomazun after he was implicated in one of the worst shooting sprees in recent memory. They were joined by Ukrainian police and scores of volunteers who distributed leaflets with his description.
A police video showing officers engaged in the massive manhunt for the shooter.
In a sign of the high emotions in Belgorod after Monday's shootings, eyewitnesses who saw Pomazun being detained at the train station shouted to police, ”Let's tear him apart!” according to Interfax.
Pomazun, lying on the ground in handcuffs, told a police officer that he hadn't shot at children but had “fired at hell,” the report said.
He also told police that he had been hiding in a swamp in a forest near the railroad tracks for the past two days.
Pomazun faces up to life in prison on murder charges. He also faces charges of stealing weapons and ammunition, the use of stolen weapons to inflict injury, and assault on a police officer, investigators said in a statement.
Pomazun will undergo a compulsory psychiatric examination, Interfax reported, citing regional investigators. His 55-year-old father has told investigators that his son had been acting aggressively recently and had attacked both of his parents, causing minor injuries.
But investigators believe that Pomazun is mentally fit.
Pomazun was released from prison last year after serving four years for theft and assaulting police, the regional edition of Izvestia reported Tuesday.
Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin laid flowers at the scene of the shootings Wednesday. All six victims were to be buried later in the day.