YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Armenian law-enforcement authorities were hunting on Tuesday for a man who killed four people and wounded seven others in a village about 50 kilometers west of Yerevan.
The gunman went on a shooting spree after bursting into a building in the Yazidi-populated village of Shamiram where hundreds of men gathered in the morning for a Yazidi religious feast. He fled the scene but left his empty car on the village outskirts.
“A guy approached one of our men and fired the first gunshots,” an eyewitness told reporters. “The moment we heard the gunfire we all ducked under the tables.”
Police officers and forensic experts cordoned off the crime scene in the following hours. In a statement, the Armenian police said the gunman opened fire with a hunting rifle. “Measures are being taken to track down the suspect,” said the statement.
Another police statement released later in the day, identified the suspect as Telman Kalashian, a 50-year-old resident of another village. The man’s photograph was attached to the statement.
Another law-enforcement body, the Investigative Committee, said that “large-scale investigative and search operations” are underway. It said the mass shooting resulted from the gunman’s “unfriendly personal relations” with the victims but did not elaborate.
Some Shamiram residents suggested that a financial dispute was behind the killings that shocked the country. One man who was present at the ill-fated dinner said the shooter shouted “give me my money back” before firing the first gunshots.
Other villagers confirmed that the gunman is not a Shamiram resident.They said that two of the victims lived in Shamiram while the two others were visitors from Russia.