Two former students kill 7 and themselves at Brazil school
Two masked attackers armed with guns, knives, axes and crossbows descended on a school in southern Brazil on Wednesday, killing five students and two adults before taking their own lives, authorities said.
The male assailants, identified as former students at the school in a suburb of Sao Paulo, also shot and killed the owner of a used-car business nearby before launching the attack on the school, authorities said.
Besides the five students, the dead included a teacher and a school administrator, said Joao Camilo Pires de Campos, the state’s secretary of public security. Nine others were wounded in the school attack and hospitalized, he said.
“This is the saddest day of my life,” De Campos said, speaking to reporters outside the school in the Sao Paulo suburb of Suzano.
Authorities identified the attackers as 17-year-old Guilherme Taucci Monteiro and 25-year-old Henrique de Castro.
“The big question is: What was the motivation of these former students?” De Campos said.
Monteiro’s mother, Tatiana Taucci, offered a possible answer, telling Band News while hiding her face from the camera that her son had been bullied at the school.
“Bullying, they call it.... He stopped going to school ... because of this,” she said.
She said she was surprised by his involvement and found out about the attack from the television like everyone else.
Minutes before the attack, Monteiro had posted 26 photos on his Facebook page, included several with guns and one that showed him giving the middle finger as he looked into the camera.
In some of the photos, he wore a black scarf with a white imprint of a skull and crossbones. No text accompanied the posts.
By Wednesday afternoon, Facebook had taken down Monteiro’s page.
During the attack, Monteiro opened fire with a .38-caliber handgun and De Castro used a crossbow, De Campos said, adding that forensics would determine how each of the victims died.
The attackers were also carrying Molotov cocktails, knives and small axes, authorities said.
“In 34 years as a policeman, it’s the first time I’ve seen someone use a crossbow like that,” Police Col. Marcelo Salles said. “It is horrendous.”
The assailants were trying to force their way into a room at the back of the school where many students were hiding when police arrived. Instead of facing police, the attackers turned their weapons on themselves, authorities said without elaborating.
Kelly Milene Guerra Cardoso, 16, said she and other students took refuge in the school cafeteria, locked the door and lay on the floor.
“We stayed there until the door was opened. We thought it was the shooters coming to get us, but it was the police,” she said. “They told us to start running.”
Horacio Pereira Nunes, a retiree whose house is next to the school, said he heard shots about 10 a.m.
“Then a lot of kids started running out, all screaming,” he said. “It didn’t take long until police arrived.”
The Professor Raul Brasil state school has more than 1,600 students in the elementary to high school levels, teachers gathered outside said.
Latin America’s most populous nation has the largest number of annual homicides in the world, but school shootings are rare.
In 2011, 12 students were killed by a gunman who roamed the halls of a school in Rio de Janeiro, shooting at pupils.
President Jair Bolsonaro ran on a platform that included promises to crack down on criminals, in part by expanding public access to guns. Soon after his Jan. 1 inauguration, Bolsonaro issued a decree making it easier to buy a gun.
“A monstrosity and cowardice without equal,” Bolsonaro wrote in a tweet expressing his sympathies for the families of the victims of Wednesday’s attacks.
Echoing arguments by gun-regulation opponents in the United States, Bolsonaro and his supporters contend expanding access to guns will combat crime.
Sen. Major Olimpio, a member of Bolsonaro’s party and a proponent of loosening gun legislation, made that argument hours after Wednesday’s rampage.
“We can’t let those who take advantage of this tragedy speak about how disarmament is the solution,” he tweeted, adding: “Weak and shameful ‘disarmament farce,’ which gave guns to criminals and prevented self-defense.”
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