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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Man Kills His Police Escorts on a Train

A 32-year-old suspect in a murder investigation gunned down two police escorts and seriously injured a third police officer on a train Friday before fleeing in eastern Moscow, police said.

Police launched a large-scale manhunt for Vladislav Stepanov, who was being brought to Moscow on an overnight train from the central city of Kirov.

Police said Stepanov, a suspect in the killing of Oleg Shramko, 35, whose dismembered body was found near the Outer Ring Road in August, had not been charged in the death and was being brought to Moscow for questioning.

At 4:17 a.m. Friday, some 15 minutes before the train was due to arrive at the Yaroslavsky Station, Stepanov somehow got out of his handcuffs and seized the guns of his two escorts, police spokesman Valery Gribakin said.

Moskovsky Komsomolets, citing a female conductor on the train, reported that Stepanov and his escorts had been drinking heavily throughout the night. She said she saw Stepanov wearing a handcuff on one wrist and the police officers holding the other half in their hands while leading him to the bathroom and dining car.

Gribakin said Captain Sergei Yermolayev, 38, died on the spot, while Major Dmitry Klyushnikov, 42, died of head injuries while being taken by ambulance to the Sklifosovsky hospital.

A third police officer, Major Vitaly Kuznetsov, was shot in the chest when he attempted to capture Stepanov on the train and remained in serious condition in the hospital Monday. Kuznetsov had been on the train checking passengers' documents.

Stepanov, armed with two pistols, jumped out of a broken window as the train was passing the Yauza Station near Losiny Ostrov Park in eastern Moscow, Gribakin said. One of the pistols was later found by police near the station, Newsru.com reported Monday.

Interior Ministry and OMON troops have been deployed in a manhunt in Moscow and several surrounding regions in an operation dubbed Volcano-5.

"The capture of this killer and fugitive is only a matter of time," Moscow police chief Vladimir Pronin said, Gazeta.ru reported Monday.

Police said Stepanov is slender and tall with blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a black leather jacket, blue jeans and a black leather cap.

Gribakin declined to elaborate on the investigation into Shramko's death last year, other than to say Stepanov and the victim knew each other.

According to media reports, Shramko's body was found after firemen put out a fire in Stepanov's apartment in southeastern Moscow on Aug. 28 and found traces of blood on the floor. The police later fished Shramko's dismembered body out of a nearby pond.

Moskovsky Komsomolets said Stepanov and Shramko had built furniture together and that shortly before the killing they had received a payment of $140,000.

Stepanov, who was on a nationwide missing persons list, was detained Wednesday in Kirov.

Tatyana Petrova, a spokeswoman for the city's eastern district police, where Klyushnikov and Yermolayev had served, said Stepanov was not charged with any crime and that was why district police officers rather than specially trained Justice Ministry guards were sent to Kirov.

She said an investigation has been opened over the escape.