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People who happened to be near the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) headquarters as a gunman opened fire said they initially thought the loud bangs were fireworks before realizing what really occurred.
Konstantin was at work in an office located just across the square from the FSB HQ and had a clear view of the shooting. He said the shooter hid behind a column belonging to a building located next to the FSB, from where he shot indiscriminately at the wall of the nearby houses. “He was constantly reloading his assault rifle and shooting to the sides.”
We also saw a dead police officer lying in the street right near the driveway access gate.
The gate led to a parking lot, where the gunman apparently sought to entrench himself, the man told journalists. Security forces soon arrived at the scene but it took them some time to get closer to the shooter, Konstantin added. The gunman and the law enforcement officials exchanged fire, and the suspect was gunned down.
After the shootout ended, Konstantin saw “two more people being carried away from the scene on stretchers”, he said, adding that a bomb disposal team was also deployed to the area. “They brought a bomb containment chamber and we were told that they are about to demine something,” Konstantin said.
They first used a robot to sound out the situation… we were all told to leave because they were really afraid that there could be an explosion.
Another witness, Vladimir, was leaving a shop located just a few hundred meters away from the FSB building when he heard the noise. “At first, we thought it was fireworks,” he told the Ruptly video agency. Yet, just moments later traffic officers urged people to leave, with the sound of gunfire getting more clear.
“Everyone immediately understood what was happening. People started to run,” the witness recalled. The man initially planned to stay and film what was going on, but eventually decided to flee out of fear he might be hit by a stray bullet.
I heard something resembling gunshots. We all hear fireworks but these noises were somewhat deadish. And we thought it was a shooting.
He said that the shootout apparently involved heavy gunfire. In such cases, people hear about “one or two” shots. “Yet, here there were lots of them. More than I could count but definitely a lot,” he told Ruptly.
Another witness, who identified himself as Andrey, was sitting in a bar when the rampage kicked off. “We heard someone shooting a Kalashnikov assault rifle” before seeing other people run. Andrey said the bar was closed and that people had to wait for about two hours for things to calm down.
People were afraid. First, we saw people fleeing and then we saw Special Forces officers armed with assault rifles moving into the other direction. There was lots of gunfire.
The shooting occurred around 6pm Moscow time, when an unidentified attacker fired several rounds. The FSB confirmed one of their staff was killed and medics say at least five more people received injuries. The perpetrator was gunned down in the fire exchange.