BENT under the weight of heartbreak, mourners fainted and others sobbed uncontrollably as grieving families gathered yesterday to bury the 12 children cold-bloodedly slaughtered in the halls of their Rio de Janeiro school.
The senseless act of unspeakable violence has stunned Brazil. The tragic roll call of death counted 10 girls and two boys between the ages of 12 and 15.
If there was any consolation for their shattered relatives it might be that their loved ones would have died instantly, as all were killed after being shot in the head at point-blank range.
Their murderer was 23-year-old Wellington Oliveira, who then shot himself dead after being confronted by police.
At least 12 other students were injured in the shooting at the Tasso da Silveira school. Two are in grave condition.
Neighbours wandered past the school in a shocked daze, leaving flowers along the school's wall in western Rio's working-class Realengo neighbourhood. Twelve crosses were left along a wall outside the school, the name of each victim written on pieces of paper above them. Officials posted the schedule for 12 funerals on the school gate. On a blackboard in the schoolyard, teachers left messages calling for better security in Brazil's schools.
Brazilian tradition dictates that people be buried the day after their death, and President Dilma Rousseff was expected to attend some of the funerals.
The shootings turned the school -- which was celebrating its 40th anniversary -- into a nightmarish scene, with bullet holes and blood marking the walls of classrooms.
Witnesses said the gunman stalked the halls of the elementary school he attended himself years before, lining up most of the children he killed and shooting them in the head, one after another, as they begged for him to stop.
Oliveira took his own life after police gunfire struck his legs and sent him toppling down some stairs, but not before carrying out what crime experts said was the worst school massacre in Brazil's history.