A mass shooting in an Armenian village, which left four people dead, was the result of an unpaid debt, a leader of Armenia’s Yazidi community claimed on Wednesday.
The killings were committed in Shamiram, a Yazidi-populated village 50 kilometers west of Yerevan, on Tuesday during a gathering of several hundred local men marking a religious feast. Four of them were shot dead and seven others wounded by a gunman who fled the scene.
The Armenian police identified the presumed shooter as Telman Kalashian, a 50-year resident of another village. Kalashian remained on the run as of Wednesday evening.
Aziz Tamoyan, who leads the largest organization of Armenia’s ethnic Yazidis, attributed the carnage to $100,000 which he said was long owed to Kalashian. In his words, Kalashian shouted that “I won’t shoot you if you give me my money” moments before opening fire. Three of the four murdered men were related to each other, said Tamoyan, who visited Shamiram earlier in the day.
“I know that Telman’s father very well,” Tamoyan told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “He is a kind and good person, a wonderful individual. I can’t understand why that guy took such an action.”
Meanwhile, the mayor of Kalashian’s village of Miasnikian said that the fugitive suspect is a herdsman who was not known for violent conduct. “He is a normal working man who has raised livestock,” Tigran Baghdasarian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “He has a wife, three daughters and one son.”
The mayor also said that the homes of the Kalashians and their relatives were placed under police guard shortly after the shootings.