‘GTA gang’ kills drivers near Moscow, vigilantes on war-path after criminals

A string of killings has brought fear to highways near Moscow. Criminals are placing spikes on the roads to stop cars - and then they shoot the drivers dead, without stealing anything. A vigilante group in Moscow has vowed to hunt the killers down.

Dubbed the 'Grand Theft Auto Gang’ after the violent computer game, a group of criminals has allegedly murdered up to 14 drivers on roads near the Russian capital, particularly on the M4 Don highway connecting Moscow with the southern regions of the country.

All crimes have a common modus operandi: the perpetrators place spikes on roadsides in deserted woody areas and when someone gets their vehicle punctured and stops, they come up to the car and shoot the victim dead using a 9mm handgun. The killers don’t take any valuables.

The first killing took place on May 3 when an elderly couple was murdered, with four similar crimes taking place on the M4 Don in the following months. It has also happened on other roads, including one that circles Moscow some 40-50 kilometers from the capital.

Some people have actually witnessed the crimes and some potential victims have managed to survive, so now police have a couple of identikit portraits of at least one of the killers. However, the motives behind the killings remain unknown.

Image from gazeta.ru

The head of the populist nationalist party LDPR, Vladimir Zhirinovsky went as far as saying in a radio interview that the killings are being carried by “professional Ukrainian subversives,” accusing the Security Service of Ukraine of organizing the crimes on Russian soil in retaliation to Russia’s position on the Ukraine crisis.

And now these crimes have caught the attention of vigilante Moscow street racers, who now patrol the roads around Moscow, trying to either identify the killers or flush them out with their expensive cars.

According to the leader of 'Smotra' street racing’s online community, Eric Kituashvili, there are 150 men in 50 cars taking part in the manhunt. They wear body armor, have thermal imagery devices and about one in ten, who have registered weapons licenses, are armed.

“You may get into trouble that will be the last trouble of your life. I mean, you may get killed. I'm being open about it, so please bear that in mind. Anything can happen where we're heading,” said Kituashvili, instructing those going for a ride outside Moscow.

RT's Ilya Petrenko hit the road with Aleksandr during one of the group’s controversial night raids. Aleksandr is a bodyguard who has a permit to carry a gun and now he feels obliged to act.

“Some bastards are just slaughtering people and I have a family. I'm doing it for my family, for my country,” he said.

The vigilantes stop cars at petrol stations, search trunks, bombard people with questions, scare drivers, and generally warn people of the danger lurking on the highway.