March 13, 2019
A student reacts in front of the Raul Brasil school after a shooting in Suzano, Sao Paulo state, Brazil March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli
By Lais Martins, Leonardo Benassatto
SUZANO, Brazil (Reuters) – Two gunmen wearing face masks entered a Brazilian school on Wednesday and shot and killed at least five teenagers who were on their snack breaks, as well as two school officials, before fatally turning their guns on themselves, police said.
Before entering the Raul Brasil school in the Sao Paulo city of Suzano, the assailants, aged 17 and 25 and both former pupils, shot and killed the owner of a car rental agency from which they had stolen a vehicle.
Ten people, including the gunmen, were killed in total, Sao Paulo police said. The students who died were mostly 15 and 16 years old.
It was not yet known why the gunmen attacked the school, where about 1,000 children aged 11 to 16 attend classes.
Marcelo Salles, commander of police forces in Sao Paulo state, spoke just outside the school and said that in his over three decades of service, he had “never seen anything like this, it was an unspeakably brutal crime.”
Salles said the gunmen used at least one .38 caliber pistol and speed loaders, along with a crossbow and homemade bombs.
Another ten people, mostly schoolchildren, were shot and injured, and several were in serious condition, said police, who lowered their estimates for the number of children killed and those injured late on Wednesday afternoon.
Police arrived eight minutes after the shooting started and did not confront the gunmen, who had already killed themselves, Salles said.
School shootings are rare in Brazil, even though the country is one of the world’s most violent, with more annual homicides than any other. The last major school shooting was in 2011, when 12 children were shot dead by a former pupil in Rio de Janeiro.
While gun laws are extremely strict in Brazil, it is not difficult to illegally purchase a weapon.
A homemade video taken during the shooting and aired by Globo TV showed children screaming, running and begging for their lives as loud shots were heard all around.
Security cameras from homes near the school showed children climbing and jumping over a white wall that surrounds the Raul Brasil building, and sprinting down streets, screaming for help.
Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria said as he stood outside the school that “our solidarity goes out to the families of the victims.”
“I was shocked with the scenes I saw inside that school,” Doria said. “It is the saddest thing I have seen in my life.”
Police said the two men entered the building and started shooting at about 9:30 a.m. local time.
Another shooting took place about 500 meters from the Raul Brasil school shortly before the killings at the school, but it was not yet clear if the two incidents were related.
Reporting by Lais Martins and Leonardo Benassatto in Suzano, Brad Brooks in Sao Paulo and Pedro Fonseca in Rio de Janeiro; Additional reporting by Caroline Mandl in Sao Paulo; Writing by Brad Brooks; Editing by Bernadette Baum