BREAKING NEWS: Rio De Janeiro, Brazil: 12 School Children Shot Dead 22 Seriously Injured By Gunman: UPDATED

7 Apr

LATEST NEWS UPDATE:

Grief-stricken Brazilians on Friday buried their children slain in a school massacre in Rio, as the nation struggled to comprehend the ghastly act of a suicidal young man.

A helicopter trows flowers during the funeral of two of the victims killed at a school Enlarge photo

A helicopter trows flowers during the funeral of two of the victims killed at a school Enlarge photo

Relatives and friends cry during the funeral of Laryssa Silva Martins Enlarge photo

Relatives and friends carry the coffin of Laryssa Silva Martins Enlarge photo

Relatives and friends of Karine Lorraine follow her coffin Enlarge photo

Just 24 hours after the attack by a former student, thousands filed into the Morundu cemetery near the Rio suburb of Realengo, where the shooting occurred, to lay the first children to rest.

Rose petals cascaded out from a military police helicopter as it flew overhead during the funeral of 13-year-old Laryssa Silva, prompting mourners to gasp and weep.

As Brazil, with the world’s largest Catholic population, grieved over its worst school shooting ever, Pope Benedict XVI reached out to victims’ families, saying he was “appalled” by the attack against “defenseless children,” the archbishop of Rio said.

“The Holy Father wishes to express his solidarity and provide spiritual comfort to families who have lost their children and to the entire school community,” according to a message sent by the Vatican to Archbishop Orani Joao Tempesta.

Benedict urged “all Cariocas… to say no to violence.”

The dead, all age 13 to 15, were shot execution style by 23-year-old Wellington Menezes de Oliveira, who returned to his former school to unleash a terrifying slaughter.

“This miserable man destroyed our family,” cried out Jackson da Silva, Laryssa’s godfather.

“He had no heart. What he did was horrific,” he told reporters at the cemetery.

Police, politicians, and medical personnel who tended to Thursday’s wounded and dying attended the funerals. Doctors in white smocks stood at attention, their stethoscopes around their necks.

On Thursday, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who took office in January, could not hold back the tears as she shared her grief with a nation shocked by the tragedy, and declared three days of national mourning.

“This (crime) is not representative of the country. Innocent children lost their lives and their future,” she said.

Rousseff, who visits China this weekend, had no plans yet to travel to Rio for the funerals, the president’s office told AFP.

By Friday, 11 of the 12 dead had been identified by relatives. Eleven youths remain hospitalized, some with serious injuries.

Emerging details reveal troubled aspects of the shooter, who only stopped firing when he himself was shot in the leg by a police officer and then turned one of his two revolvers on himself, officials said.

A rambling, religiously themed suicide note was found in his clothes but it shed little light on the motivation of his macabre attack on defenseless children, aged between nine and 15, at the start of morning classes at the Tasso da Silveira public school.

Some of the chaotic scenes were caught by the school’s closed-circuit video camera system, whose images showed desperate students running down hallways in a desperate bid to elude the attacker, who also could be seen reloading his weapon.

A video clip, likely from a mobile phone and posted on the website YouTube, showed several panicked students, their shirts stained with blood, racing out the doors of the building.

According to survivors’ accounts, Menezes de Oliveira calmly walked into a classroom and told students to close their eyes and put their hands in the air.

“You are going to die now!” he screamed moments later as he methodically opened fire with two handguns, ignoring pleas for mercy from the terrified students.

“A lot of people shouted ‘No, don’t shoot me, don’t kill me,’ 12-year-old survivor Jade Ramos de Araujo told O Globo newspaper, “but they still died.”

People who knew him described Menezes de Oliveira as a quiet and friendless person who was bullied in school, with one former classmate recalling that the future shooter was often humiliated by girls who rejected his advances.

“I honestly do not know why he did not do that (the massacre) with our own group,” ex-classmate Bruno Linhares, 23, told local media.

The tragedy has renewed debate about the relative ease of acquiring handguns in one of the biggest cities in the Americas, with the spotlight on Rio as it prepares to host the World Cup football tournament in 2014 and Olympics two years later.

There are some 580,000 illegal handguns in Rio de Janeiro state, far more than the 225,000 legally registered, according to a parliamentary commission.

Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo on Thursday announced a new government campaign against gun violence in the country.

————

NEWS UPDATE:

An undated handout photo of Wellington Menezes Oliveira
The gunman left a note saying he wanted to kill himself.

Video: Security video released of school shooting

CCTV video of Brazil school shooting released ...

Gunman opens fire in Brazilian school, 12 dead
Play Video AP  – Gunman opens fire in Brazilian school, 12 dead

A woman reacts outside a school after a shooting at the school in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday April 7, 2011.  Brazilian authorities say that a gu
AP – A woman reacts outside a school after a shooting at the school in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday April …

 
By JULIANA BARBASSA, Associated Press Juliana Barbassa, Associated Press : UPDATE

RIO DE JANEIRO – Stalking the halls of his one-time elementary school, 23-year-old Wellington Oliveira killed 10 girls and two boys, most with shots to their heads even as children begged him to stop, witnesses said.

Oliveira then 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 are calling the worst school massacre in Brazil’s history.

Witnesses said he entered the Tasso da Silveira school in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday armed with two pistols and an ammunition belt, shooting at students and repeatedly yelling: “I’m going to kill you all!”

“He had already killed a lot of children in the first floor and in the yard,” student Jade Ramos told the Globo television network. “He kept telling the kids to face the wall and was shooting at their heads. The children kept begging, ‘No, please!’ There was a lot of blood, children agonizing on the stairs.”

Ramos said she escaped by running into a classroom, where a teacher locked the door and barricaded it with tables. Images taken with a cellphone and posted on YouTube showed students fleeing wildly, screaming for help, many with their white and blue school shirts soaked in blood.

Families still reeling from the attack were planning for the funerals of their children Friday, while Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said she would do her best to attend the memorials.

“I ask for one minute of silence for these children who were taken so early from their life,” Rousseff said, her eyes welling with tears. “It’s not in the nature of our nation to have these types of crimes.”

With a dozen children dead, 11 more were in hospitals for wounds or other injuries, at least two of them reported in grave condition. The ages of the children were not immediately known, though the school serves grades one through eight.

Elias da Silva paced outside a hospital waiting for news of his nephew, a 14-year-old boy who slipped on a pool of blood and twisted his ankle as he fled the school pulling along a friend during a moment when the gunman stopped to reload. His nephew escaped, but the girl was shot in the back and died, the uncle said.

“I asked God for him to come out alive and he did,” Silva said. “He came out running and still thought to try to save his friend. This is going to be difficult for him to understand.”

Andreia Machado tearfully recounted what her 13-year-old daughter, Thayane, told her before going into surgery.

Thayane was struck by three bullets and lost feeling in her legs because one hit her spine, the mother said. With tears streaking her cheeks, Machado wondered if her daughter would ever be able to walk.

“She’s such an active child,” she said. “That’s the biggest fear I have, her not being able to walk again. But we have to trust in God.”

Officials said Oliveira had once attended the Tasso da Silveira school in a working-class neighborhood in western Rio.

The motive for the attack wasn’t known, but authorities said the shooter left a rambling and mostly incoherent letter at the scene indicating he wanted to kill himself.

The letter also explained in detail how Oliveira wanted his corpse to be cared for — bathed and wrapped in a white sheet that he left in a bag in the first room where he said he would start shooting. The letter also states that the gunman should not be touched by anyone who is “impure” unless they wear gloves.

“If possible I want to be buried next to my mother. A follower of God must visit my grave at least once. He must pray before my grave and ask God to forgive me for what I have done,” read the letter, which was posted on the Globo television network’s website.

Edmar Peixoto, the deputy mayor of western Rio, said the letter also stated the gunman had the AIDS virus.

Oliveira’s neighbors told the newspaper Jornal do Brasil they couldn’t believe the quiet young man who kept his head down and stayed out of trouble was responsible for so much bloodshed.

“He was never violent; he didn’t get in trouble, throw stones, or fight in the streets,” said Edna de Lira Ferreira, 55. “He was just quiet, and we respected the way he was. He just stayed in his room, in front of the computer.”

Oliveira had been a Jehovah’s Witness, like his adoptive parents and their other five children, Ferreira said.

Another neighbor, Elma Pedrosa, remembered Oliveira as an unusual youth who looked away when he passed acquaintances rather than greet them.

“He was anti-social, but he never demonstrated any violent tendencies,” she said.

The public school was in the midst of celebrating its 40th anniversary, and students’ handmade posters commemorating the day could be seen through school windows.

About 400 people were inside the school when the shooting began about 8:30 a.m.

When Oliveira first entered the school he told staff members he was there to give a lecture, Rio Police Chief Martha Rocha said. Shortly afterward, he opened fire.

The gunman had no criminal history, Rocha added at a news conference.

Rio is a city rife with drug-gang violence in its vast slums, but school shootings are rare.

“What happened in Rio is without a doubt the worst incident of its kind to have taken place in Brazil,” said Guaracy Mingardi, a crime and public safety expert at the University of Sao Paulo.

Police were alerted to the shooting when two young boys, at least one with a gunshot wound, ran up to two officers on patrol about two blocks away. The 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,” officer Marcio Alves said. “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,” Paes told reporters at the school.

Authorities closed the school temporarily while they investigate, but Paes said it would reopen.

Rio Gov. Sergio Cabral called the shooter a “psychopath” and said there were no indications anyone else was involved in the shooting, but that the investigation would continue.

“We have to investigate where he got the weapons and where he learned to use them,” the governor said.

___

Associated Press writers Bradley Brooks, Stan Lehman and Tales Azzoni in Sao Paulo contributed to this

————

NEWS UPDATE:

Video: Twelve killed in Rio shooting

Journalists take pictures while paramedics ...

A heavily armed man entered his former Rio school Thursday and opened fire, killing 10 children and wounding 18 people before taking his own life, officials said in a tragedy that has shaken Brazil.

Policemen arrive at the school in Rio de Janeiro Enlarge photo

Rio de Janeiro state’s health department chief Sergio Cortes presented the new toll for the attack, revising it downward from 13 dead and 22 wounded announced earlier by fire officials in the chaotic few hours after the attack.

Authorities identified the shooter as 24-year-old Wellington Menezes de Oliveira, a former student at the public school.

Police said he left a letter saying he wanted to commit suicide, but they also said he appeared to have prepared for a major deadly assault, bringing into the school two revolvers and loads of ammunition just as students and staff were arriving at the morning bell.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said she was “shocked and disturbed” at the shooting.

“Innocent children lost their lives and their future,” she said in a brief television appearance.

Her education minister, Fernando Haddad, described the attack as “an unprecedented tragedy in Brazil,” adding that “this is a day of mourning for all Brazilian education.”

Colonel Evandro Bezerra, a fire department spokesman, told TV Globo News several of the dead had been shot in the head.

The multi-storey Tasso da Silveira primary school in Rio’s Realengo district served children between nine and 14 years old.

“Employees of the school told officers that the young man arrived well-dressed and carrying a backpack, and said he told them he had been invited to speak with students in a school conference,” Bezerra said.

“That’s how he gained access to the third floor,” where he launched his attack on at least one classroom, sending terrified students running down the stairs and out the building.

Military Police Colonel Djalma Beltrame said police stormed the school and wounded the attacker, “but the man killed himself with a gunshot to the head.”

Beltrame said the attacker left a rambling suicide note that “made no sense and had no logic.”

The attack could have been far worse had a police patrol not driven past the school at the time of the shooting. Beltrame said the police saw wounded and screaming children in the streets, then heard gunshots.

“If the police did not arrive as quickly as they did the tragedy could have been far worse, because this man had a lot of ammunition and was carrying two guns,” Beltrame said.

Hundreds of distraught parents and neighbors rushed to the school for word of loved ones, with several people fainting amid harrowing scenes of despair outside the building, which has been cordoned off by police.

Eluzia, who lives opposite the school, told AFP that her 10-year-old son escaped the attack.

“He looked out the window when he heard the shots, and when he didn’t see anything he started running for the door. Thank God he’s fine,” the woman said.

“I saw many more people running, people who had been shot. It was horrible,” a visibly shaken Eluzia said.

“This neighborhood is very calm, I never imagined that something like this could happen here.”

Elizer, a postal worker who lives nearby, said two injured students banged on his door.

“Two children ran to my house, there was gunfire in all directions. My daughter and my two nephews were there, but they’re alright,” he said.

TV Globo News aired images of the wounded being loaded into ambulances at the school in the western Rio neighborhood.

————–

NEWS UPDATE:

Gunman opens fire in Rio de Janeiro school
CLICK ON IMAGE TO Play Video AP  – Gunman opens fire in Rio de Janeiro school

 
By JULIANA BARBASSA, Associated Press Juliana Barbassa, Associated Press :

RIO DE JANEIROBrazilian authorities say that a gunman opened fire in an elementary school in Rio de Janeiro and at least 13 people are dead. The gunman is among them, though it is not clear if he shot himself or was killed by police.

Fire department spokesman Evandro Bezerra tells the Globo television network that at least 20 people were wounded in Thursday’s shooting.

A fire department spokeswoman confirmed to The Associated Press that there were deaths, but she did not know exact the number. She spoke on condition of anonymity as she was not authorized to discuss the matter.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

Brazilian authorities say a gunman has injured at least 15 people at a school in Rio de Janeiro.

The Globo television network reports that some people have been killed in Thursday’s shooting. Police have not immediately responded to calls for confirmation.

A spokeswoman for Rio’s fire department confirms 15 injuries and says the incident has ended. It was not clear why the man was in the school.

Television images showed more than a hundred people gathered outside the school.

NEWS UPDATE:

Gunman opens fire in Rio de Janeiro school Play Video AP  – Gunman opens fire in Rio de Janeiro school

A police officer, right, stands by women gathered outside a school after a shooting at the school in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, April 7, 2011.
AP – A police officer, right, stands by women gathered outside a school after a shooting at the school in …

 
By JULIANA BARBASSA, Associated Press Juliana Barbassa, Associated Press : UPDATE

RIO DE JANEIRO – A gunman opened fire at a public elementary school in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday, killing at least 11 students before taking his own life. At least 18 other people, mostly students, were hurt and brought to local hospitals, said Rio state Health Secretary Sergio Cortes. At least four were in grave condition.

The dead included 10 girls and one boy, plus the gunman, Cortes said. The ages of the children were not immediately known. Police had said earlier that at least 13 people had died in the shooting.

A police spokeswoman told the AP that the gunman was identified as 23-year-old Wellington Oliveira, a former student at the Tasso da Silveira school, located in a working-class neighborhood in western Rio. She spoke on condition of anonymity, saying that she was not authorized to discuss the matter.

A motive was not immediately known, but authorities said the shooter left a rambling and mostly incoherent letter at the scene indicating he wanted to kill himself.

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 8:30 a.m. local time (7:30 a.m. EDT; 1130 GMT). The school serves grades one through eight.

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,” Paes told reporters at the school.

Authorities closed the school temporarily while they investigate, but Paes said it would reopen.

Rio Gov. Sergio Cabral called the shooter a “psychopath.” He said there were no indications yet that anyone else was involved in the shooting, but that the investigation would continue.

“We have to investigate where he got the weapons and where he learned to use them,” the governor said.

Terrified parents rushed to the school in the Realengo neighborhood. Television images showed them crying and screaming for information about their children.

Zilda Nunes, 67, lives across the street from the school and said three of her grandchildren were inside when the shooting began.

She screamed for help when she heard the gunfire, but didn’t enter the building. As students fled, she offered them sugar water to help calm them down, she said.

“There were so many children shot, so much blood,” Nunes said. “People were asking for help, but what could I do?”

Wanderson Barbosa, an 11-year-old student at the school, said he was in his classroom when he heard a commotion. He thought students elsewhere were fighting, but said his teacher told the kids to lie down on the floor because there was gunfire.

“I’m so worried. We don’t have news of everybody yet,” said Barbosa, as he sat in his house across the street from the school.

Three helicopters were landing and taking off from a football field next to the school, ferrying the wounded to nearby hospitals.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, attending an event in the capital, Brasilia, lamented the deaths of “defenseless children.”

“I ask for one minute of silence for these children who were taken so early from their life,” she said, her voice cracking and eyes welling with tears. “It’s not in the nature of our nation to have these types of crimes.”

___

Associated Press writers Bradley Brooks and Stan Lehman in Sao Paulo contributed to this report.

 —————

A man has killed 10 children and left 18 seriously injured after opening fire on a classroom at his former school in Rio De Janeiro in Brazil.

10 Children Killed In Brazil School Shooting Enlarge photo

Police have named the gunman as 24-year-old Wellington Menezes de Oliveira.

Detectives said he entered the classroom in the Tasso da Silveira primary school armed with two loaded revolvers and opened fire soon after the morning bell rang.

He was later shot in the leg by police before he turning the gun on himself and taking his own life.

Police confirmed 18 people were seriously injured and were taken to the Albert Schweitzer hospital. Most were suffering from gunshot wounds to the chest and head.

Local police commander Djalma Beltrame told Globo TV de Oliveira ad left a letter at the scene indicating he wanted to kill himself.

But he said the note did not give a clear motive for the shooting.

“It was a premeditated act,” Beltrame said. “He was clearly a hallucinating person.”

He said the attack could have been far worse had a police patrol not driven past the school at the time and heard gunfire.

“If the police did not arrive as quickly as they did the tragedy could have been far worse, because this man had a lot of ammunition and was carrying two guns,” he said.

Television pictures showed three helicopters landing on a football field next to the school and taking the victims to hospital.

Frantic parents could also be seen crying and screaming outside the school as they awaited news that their children were alive and safe.

The school teaches about 300 children aged nine to 14 years.

Dorival Porto Rafael, a rubbish collector who was at the school at the time, told Globo online the gunman walked into a class where eighth-grade students were studying Portuguese.

“He came in saying he was going to give a talk… and without saying anything took out a pistol from his bag and started firing,” Mr Rafael said.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said she was “shocked and disturbed” at the attack. “Innocent children lost their lives and their future,” she said.

Education minister Fernando Haddad described the shooting as “an unprecedented tragedy in Brazil.”

Policemen arrive at the school in Rio de Janeiro Enlarge photo

The victims included students and staff at the public school Enlarge photo

A relative of a victim of the shooting is comforted outside a hospital Enlarge photo

Journalists take pictures while paramedics carry the body of a man believed to be a …More Enlarge photo

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One Response to “BREAKING NEWS: Rio De Janeiro, Brazil: 12 School Children Shot Dead 22 Seriously Injured By Gunman: UPDATED”

  1. Archbishop Walter Dixon 1AprilJ2011 at 9:46 pm #

    April 7, 2011 1:58 P.M.

    Bishop Walter Dixon of U.S.A. Atlanta, GA Prayer for 11 Children Killed and 18 Injured in Brazil Elementary School Shooting in Rio de Janeiro.

    cc: President Barack Obama President of the United States and President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil.

    Oh Lord, who art the strength of sufferers and the comfort of those who are heavy of hearts: incline thine ears, we beseech thee, to the prayers of all who cry unto thee in their troubles; stress and distressed, uphold the fainting, relieve the suffering, console the sad, and make thy face to shine upon the families of members who lost their children lives,

    O lord, thou lover of souls whose wisdom is beyond our understanding, surround the families lost with your love, that they may not be overwhelmed by their loss but have confidence in your goodness, and strength to meet the day and days to come. May our Lord Jesus Christ be near these children families to defend them, within them to refresh them around them to preserve them, before them to guide them, behind them to justify them, above them, to bless them. Their lives and resigns with their families and the Father and the Holy Ghost. Their souls are bound up in ours forever.

    We see them now with the eyes of memory, their faults forgiven, and their virtues grown larger. So does goodness live and weakness fade from sight. We remember them with gratitude and bless their names. Their memory is a blessing for ever. We remember as well the fallen one who but yesterday was part of our community. To all who cared for them and labored for all people, we pay tribute.

    May we prove worthy of carrying on the tradition of our faith for the task is now their families. Their souls are bound up in all of ours forever. We give you thanks that they now live and reign with you. As a great crowd of witnesses, they surround us with their blessings, and offer your humbleness of praise and grace.

    That these lives live forever more in your kingdom. Let us remember and thank God whom we worship for making us your children by grace and for sustaining us with the bread of life: We thank you, Lord. For your presence wherever we have gathered: We thank you, Lord. For the pardon of our sins, especially when Christians have renewed their life as Christians, who restores us to the fellowship of your faithful people, the saints:

    We thank you, Lord. For the faith of all who have gone before us, thru their encouragement to their families:

    We thank you Lord.
    Archbishop Walter Dixon U.S.A. Atlanta, GA
    Forgiveness Missionary Church of Christ
    fmcocbishopwalterdixon@yahoo.com
    forgivinessmissionarychurchoc@yahoo.com
    678.667.0090 (Prayer Line)
    P.O. Box 832161 Stone Mountain, GA 30083

    I have posted this prayer on FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter, Yahoo and YouTube for others to join in prayer not only for the lives that was loss but the (12) children injured.

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