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Posted on April 7, 2011
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Parents and relatives of schoolchildren await outside Tasso da Silveira school where a gunman opened fire on children in the Realengo neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, April 7, 2011.
Credit: Reuters/Sergio Moraes
RIO DE JANEIRO | Thu Apr 7, 2011 1:42pm EDT
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – A Brazilian gunman fatally shot 11 children at a Rio de Janeiro school before killing himself, police said on Thursday, shocking the South American nation that has never seen such an incident before.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff 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.
The attack by the 24-year-old Welington de Oliveira is Brazil’s first serial shooting at a school in Brazil, which has never had an attack similar to incidents in the United States, including the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre and the 1999 Columbine high school shooting in Colorado.
“We have to show solidarity and support for the families of the children (killed by) that psychopath, that animal,” said Rio de Janeiro Governor Sergio Cabral in a press conference at the school in the Rio neighborhood of Realengo.
Oliveira was a former student at the school but his motive was not clear. Police said he did not have a criminal record.
Rio de Janeiro military police said Oliveira entered the school carrying two guns and a suicide note. He told officials he was there to deliver a speech and then opened fire on students. Eighteen people were wounded, several of them seriously.
Several of the 13 wounded children fleeing to the street called a police patrol, which rushed to the school and exchanged gunfire before Oliveira killed himself.
Violence in Rio traditionally has been associated with drug gangs that control vast areas of the city’s slum communities. Rio’s government has in recent months made considerable advances against narco-trafficking but crime remains a problem in the beachside tourist haven.
Crime experts say contraband firearms from police and the army often end up in the hands of criminals.
Authorities have stepped up slum pacification efforts that have created a permanent police presence in poor neighborhoods in hopes of tightening security in advance of the 2014 World Cup soccer championship and the 2016 Olympic Games.
(Reporting by Pedro Fonseca and Rodrigo Viga Gaier; Writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Raymond Colitt and Bill Trott)