Military veteran kills 5, injures 5 in Georgia’s eastern Kakheti region

The deadly incident in the eastern city of Sagarejo claimed six lives on Friday and left five others injured. Photo: RFE/RL, 20 Jan 2023 - 11:59, Tbilisi,Georgia

A retired military veteran killed five individuals, including a police officer, and injured another five in Georgia’s eastern Kakheti region before committing suicide, the country’s Interior Ministry said on Friday.

The 49-year-old offender, who had served in the country’s Defence Forces between 2006 and 2021, including in the NATO-led peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan, shot the victims from balconies of a flat in the city of Sagarejo, before committing suicide as police in riot gear broke into the flat.

Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri at the scene early on Friday. Photo: IPN.

Vakhtang Gomelauri, the Georgian Interior Minister who arrived at the scene early on Friday, said the offender had been with his adult child, with the latter escaping the flat following the incident. 

He also said the shooter had fired in the direction of police officers, with the 38-year-old Otar Gvinashvili, a senior detective of the Ministry’s Sagarejo department, receiving fatal injuries while using his body to cover another person during the shooting. Gvinashvili died later in hospital from the injuries.

Media reports said Gvinashvili had used his body to save an individual during shooting. 

Doctors said only one of the five individuals injured in the incident remained in critical condition and was undergoing surgery, while another had been moved to a Tbilisi facility for treatment of an eye injury. 

Neighbours told local media the shooter had rented his flat and was reportedly undergoing treatment for psychological problems.

The police investigation into the incident is looking into the shooting with the articles of premeditated murder and illegal possession and keeping of firearms.