Russian police capture 'Belgorod shooter' as he attempts to escape massive manhunt

Sergey Pomazun, the main suspect in the Belgorod shooting, has been arrested trying to elude a massive Russian-Ukrainian manhunt. He was leaving the city in a freight train. Six people were killed in Monday spree, including a 14-year-old girl.

On Tuesday evening Sergey Pomazun tried to leave the cordoned area in a freight train, but was detained by the police,” the Russian Interior Ministry has said. Pomazun was arrested at the city’s railway station.

The suspect injured one policeman with a knife as he tried to resist arrest, the ministry added.

The photo composite of the shooter created by law enforcement was crucial in apprehending the suspect. He was detained by four policemen dispatched from Moscow to aid the search.

“At around 11 pm we saw a suspiciously behaving man walking in the direction of the station. We approached to check his documents. When we realized that he looked like the composite, we launched the arrest operation. He resisted,” Aleksey Edreshov, one of the man responsible for capture told RIA.

Currently Pomazun is in temporary detention in a local police station.   

The murder suspect began to testify, investigative official, Elena Kozyrev told RIA adding that the suspect will be subject to a psychological and psychiatric examination.

The funeral of victims of the tragedy will be held on April 24, according to the mayor's office. The city administration agreed to pay the families of the victims 1 million rubles and offered aid in conducting the funerals.

A suspect in the Belgorod shooting was captured on April 23, 2013. (RIA Novosti / Ministry of Interior)

Sergey Pomazun. RIA Novosti / Ministry of Interior

Hundreds of police had been searching for the 'Belgorod shooter,' who went on a gun rampage in the Russian city of Belgorod on Monday, killing six people. Helicopters and jets were also reported to be patrolling the area.

At least 2,000 police and special forces were engaged in the operation. Highway police were searching all vehicles on the road, and Belgorod residents had been told to stay in their homes if possible and to not disrupt the search operation.

"I went to school today. Streets are empty. People are scared to leave homes. Very few cars. Belgorod is filled with panic," Twitter user @gods_syndrome reported.

Earlier, city residents planned to hold a memorial event on Tuesday evening to mourn the victims of the shooting rampage. However, the gathering was canceled for security reasons.

Police force from neighboring regions were dispatched to join the manhunt. Over 100 public activists and members of youth movements have also joined police in an effort to find the still-at-large gunman.

Law enforcement personnel conduct a special operation searching for Sergey Pomazun suspected in shooting spree on Narodny Boulevard in Belgorod which claimed six lives. (RIA Novosti)

Sergey Pomazun, 31, went on shooting rampage on Monday at a local arms store. Six people were killed: Four men aged between 28 and 45 and a 14-year-old girl. Another girl, 16, died later in hospital. Mourners brought candles, stuffed toys and flowers to the site of the tragedy.

Twitter users in Belgorod have said that the father of the slain 14-year-old girl could not endure the loss and died, though this death has not been officially confirmed.

In fact, the father of the killed 14-year-old girl has become the seventh victim of the Belgrade tragedy ,” AlenaGood31 wrote.

Pomazun is believed to have taken at least one rifle from the store with him as he escaped in his BMW. His vehicle was later found abandoned. Social media users have speculated that he may be addicted to drugs.

The rifle used in the rampage belonged to the shooter's father, who is a hunter, and was legally registered.

The neighboring Ukrainian regions of Kharkov, Luhansk and Sumy are also on the search map, as the suspect may have crossed the border. A bounty of 3 million rubles ($100,000) has been posted for his capture.

An investigation into the deadly incident is underway. On Tuesday, Belgorod's regional Investigative Committee charged Pomazun in absentia with the murder of six people, theft of a weapon and ammunition, and the theft of weapons used for violence. Investigators also asked the court to impose arrest as pre-trial restraint for the suspect.

Victim of the shooting on People's Boulevard in Belgorod, where 6 people were killed. (Photo from a mobile phone). (RIA Novosti)

Authorities have announced a two-day mourning period in the wake of the tragedy.

Police have put out a call for dashboard camera recordings from vehicles that were near the crime scene on Monday. Special police patrols have been assigned to guard kindergartens and schools until the shooter is captured.

Some have suggested that Pomazun may have committed suicide in the woods.

City residents lay flowers to the site of a shooting spree on Narodny Boulevard in Belgorod which claimed six lives. (RIA Novosti/Mikhail Malykhin)

Pomazun was released from prison in December after serving a sentence for theft. At his apartment, investigators discovered an empty opened weapons safe. No weapons were found in the gunman’s abandoned car.

On the eve of the deadly rampage Pomazun reportedly tried to buy ammunition in that same gun shop. When he was refused due to his criminal record, he promised to return and gun down everyone, Vesti FM reports. The employees did not take his threats seriously.

Belgorod is a city with a population of over 420,000 people in the south of European Russia, about 40km from the Ukraine border.

'He went insane in jail'

The father of the suspect said that his son was behaving erratically in recent days, and had threatened to kill him. "He went nuts after 5 years in jail" Aleksander Pomazun told Lifenews. 

Pomazun junior is said to have led a chaotic lifestyle, and would often pay short visits to his parents to ask to borrow money. Unable to pass driving tests, Sergey did not have a driver's license but still drove his parents' car.

Sergey Pomazun. (RIA Novosti)

"The suspect's father had previously called the police twice about the aggressive behavior of his son," an investigation spokesperson said. "However, no punitive measures were undertaken by law enforcement, they are said to just come and leave asking to inform them in case of a violent action. We will investigate this information and hold those police officers responsible if it is confirmed."

Neighbors confirmed that Sergey was prone to antisocial behavior, saying he was frequently inexplicably aggressive against them.

Sergey acquired his shooting skills in the army: He served in the special forces at a nuclear missile base for two years.

Rosbalt reported that the shooter has been isolated and placed under psychiatric control for a set period while imprisoned. The investigation, however, did not confirm that the shooter had been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder.