Ex-student massacres 12 in gun rampage at Rio school
Published 08/04/2011 | 05:00
At least 12 children were killed at a school in Rio de Janeiro yesterday, 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 8am, saying that he was there to give a speech.
He was carrying two revolvers, ammunition and a suicide note.
He killed a dozen pupils aged between 12 and 14, exchanged fire with an officer from a police station next door, then reportedly shot himself dead. Emergency services said 30 people were wounded.
Dilma Rousseff, the Brazilian president, said she was "shocked and disturbed" by the massacre.
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 caters for 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 language 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."
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."
Mr Rafael also told 'Globo' online that the gunman walked into a class where students were studying Portuguese.
"He came into the class saying he was going to give a talk. He went to an eighth-grade class, on the [ground floor], and without saying anything took out a pistol from his bag and started firing," Mr Rafael said.
"The police arrived and he tried to go up to the next floor, but when he saw he was surrounded he shot himself in the head," the eyewitness added.
Rodrigo Alves Pereira, who lives in the area, told the BBC that he was in a shop near the school when he heard "a lot of shots coming from inside the school".
"I went out and saw many children... coming out of the school. Some of them were covered in blood, shaken, asking for help. One was injured in the shoulder. They were desperate and crying.
"They said that there was a man wearing a suit who was shooting at school kids in classrooms. He first went to a reading room, talked to teachers there, and then went on to two classrooms. This is a complete tragedy. We are all devastated," Mr Pereira said.
Police later said the gunman had a letter, stating that he intended to commit suicide after the shooting.
Rescue workers used a football pitch near the school as a helicopter base from which to transport wounded children to the hospital.
Hundreds of people gathered outside the school, either out of curiosity or to check on children who were inside at the time of the shooting, the BBC reported.
The massacre came as city authorities attempted to clean up Rio's image in advance of hosting major international sporting events in the next few years.
Authorities are trying to tighten security ahead of the 2014 football World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games. The attack is not thought to be linked to gang violence.
Rio is a city rife with drug-gang violence in its vast slums, but school shootings are rare. The gunman had no criminal history, Police Chief Martha Rocha told a news conference.
Rocha said he walked into the school with two firearms -- she didn't detail what type -- and an ammunition belt. He fired off at least 30 rounds.
About 400 people were inside the school when the shooting began about 8.30am local time.
Two young boys, at least one with a gunshot wound, ran up to two police officers on patrol about two blocks away from the school as the shooting started.
The two officers sprinted to the school and at least one quickly located the gunman on the second floor and traded shots with him.
"He saw me and aimed a gun at me," said Officer Marcio Alves.
"I shot him in the legs, he fell down the stairs and then shot himself in the head."
Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes said life at the four-story, pastel-yellow and green school was turned into a "hellish nightmare".
"This day would have been so much worse if it weren't for the hero policeman," Mr Paes told reporters at the school. (© Daily Telegraph, London)