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3 May, 2009 04:33

Police under inspection after Moscow shooting

The chief of Moscow's police has been sacked and his staff are being put through a full-scale assessment program after a policeman went on a shooting rampage at a supermarket, killing three people and wounding six.

The gunman Major Denis Yevsyukov first killed the taxi driver who gave him a lift, then entered a supermarket and continued shooting, killing a cashier and one of the customers.

Elena Dudal, her boyfriend and their friends were hanging out in front of a local supermarket. They were approached by a man, wearing a police jacket. All of a sudden, a bullet pierced her shoulder and came out of her neck.

“I could tell right away he was somewhat drunk. I was standing there shocked as he loaded the gun. I thought he'd just shoot into the air to scare us. But the man first fired at me, then at my friend,” Elena recalls.

Luiza Mukhitdinova also came just centimeters from death. A bullet went through her jaw and damaged her neck.

“He was firing his gun at everybody around him, trying to injure as many people as possible. He would shoot again and again. As I rushed away, I saw some guy fall to the ground nearby,” Luiza said.

Yevsyukov fired at the police as well. At first investigators thought he used his service weapon, but it turned out Yevsyukov fired from a different gun. It was involved in another shooting nine years ago and was on a police search list.

A year ago Denis Yevsyukov was involved in another incident. He got drunk in a cafe and attacked people with pepper spray, but still managed to get promoted at work.

Major Yevsyukov was appointed head of the Tsaritsyno district police station in southern Moscow last November. His job was to provide security for more than 100,000 people.

Instead he went on a shooting rampage in the middle of the night right after celebrating his birthday.

“The brutality of this crime is in the fact that the criminal was a police officer – someone who has to protect and help people,” Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev commented.

The incident only adds to the negative reputation of Russia’s policemen.

“The image of Russian police is not extremely bright actually among the public and that aggravates the situation. People don't have too much trust in the police and this incident makes it even less,” said political analyst Boris Kagralitsky.

The tragedy has pushed authorities to rethink to whom they entrust the safety of citizens. President Dmitry Medvedev sacked the police officer in charge of the southern suburb where the shootings happened, although reports in the media suggest he already quit himself. The chief of Moscow's police, Major General Vladimir Pronin, has also been dismissed.

He had been in office since 2001 and faced previous calls to quit during terror attacks between 2002 and 2004, including the Nord-Ost theater hostage siege that claimed 129 lives.