At least 12 children were killed at a school in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday, after a former pupil talked his way into the building and gunned down pupils and teachers before shooting himself.
Wellington Menezes de Oliveira, 24, entered Tasso da Silveira school at about 8 a.m., saying that he was there to give a speech. He was carrying two revolvers, ammunition and a suicide note.
In the first mass killing of its kind in Brazil, he gunned down a dozen pupils aged between 12 and 14, then exchanged fire with an officer from a police station next door and reportedly shot himself dead.
Emergency services said 30 people were wounded.
Dilma Rousseff, the Brazilian president, said she was “shocked and disturbed” at the wept when commenting on the incident during a speech to business leaders and requested a moment of silence for the victims.”This type of crime is not characteristic of [our] country and therefore we are all … united in repudiating this act of violence,” Rousseff said.
A father who arrived to collect his children after the shooting described the school as “a war scene.”
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said. “This type of thing happens in the United States, not here.”
After arriving at the school, which has 1,000 pupils between the ages of nine and 14, it is thought de Oliveira shot two boys, one in the head and the other in the arm.
He then apparently walked into a Portuguese lesson, and opened fire.
Dorival Porto Rafael, a rubbish collector who was at the school, said: “Without saying anything he took out a pistol from his bag and started firing. The police arrived, and when he saw he was surrounded, he shot himself in the head.”
Marcos Silva, 11, who was in the school but was not harmed, said the experience was “like a horror movie.”
“Everyone lay down on the ground in silence, the teacher asked us not to make noise so the killer wouldn’t notice us,” Silva said “I thought to myself, ‘If he comes in, we’re all going to die.”‘
Other children fled towards the police station. “Some of them were covered in blood, shaken, asking for help,” a witness told the BBC. “They were desperate and crying.”
Police said they believed he was mentally unstable, citing the content of the suicide note, which asked that someone “stand in front of my tomb and ask God to forgive me for what I did.”
Oliveira did not have a police record.
The Rio authorities are trying to tighten security ahead of the 2014 soccer World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games.