Deadly attack in Brazil: a young man breaks into two schools and kills at least three people
Steph Deschamps / November 26, 2022
A 16-year-old man wearing a Nazi symbol shot up two schools Friday in the southeastern Brazilian state of Espirito Santo, killing at least three people and injuring 11 others.
The shooting occurred in Aracruz, a city of 100,000 people, about 600 kilometers northeast of Rio de Janeiro. Three teachers and a student of unspecified age are in serious condition, authorities said.
With his face covered and a swastika on his camouflage clothing, the attacker broke into the Primo Bitti School, a public elementary and high school he had left in June, investigators said. After passing through the gate at the back of the school, he went into the teachers' lounge and opened fire on several teachers, killing two people and wounding nine others, authorities said.
Video surveillance footage released by the media shows the young man entering the school with a gun in his hand, while several people flee in his wake. He can be seen firing a few shots without stopping.
He then went, not far away, to the Praia de Coqueiral Education Center, a private school, where he killed a teenager and wounded two people, before being arrested by the police.
"He did not have a specific target" when he opened fire, said Civil Police Commissioner Joao Francisco Filho at a press conference, but he had been planning the attack for "two years", he said.
The two weapons he used belonged to his father, a police officer, and one was his service weapon, authorities said. They are investigating whether the young man, who was undergoing "psychiatric treatment," had links to any extremist groups.
He was arrested at his home a few hours after the incident and, with the cooperation of his parents, surrendered without offering any resistance.
The mayor of Aracruz, Luis Carlos Coutinho, initially told CBN radio that there were two assailants.
The governor of the state of Espirito Santo, Renato Casagrande, declared three days of mourning.
President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called the killing an "absurd tragedy" on Twitter. "I express my solidarity with the relatives of the victims and support the governor for an investigation," said the leftist leader, who will take office on Jan. 1.
Lula has campaigned against the dramatic explosion of permits to own and carry firearms under outgoing far-right President Jair Bolsonaro since January 2019.
"The gun policy must be reviewed," tweeted Senator Wellington Dias, a Lula ally, for his part.
These last four years are the ones where we have seen the most attacks in schools, at least since the early 2000s," Bruno Langeani, project manager at the Instituto Sou da Paz, told AFP. "We are convinced that the greater access to weapons in recent years under the Bolsonaro government has facilitated these types of attacks," he added.
According to the NGO Brazilian Public Security Forum, there are about 4.4 million privately owned weapons in the country of 215 million people.
School shootings, however, remain relatively rare in Brazil, a huge yet violent country.
The deadliest occurred on April 7, 2011, when a 24-year-old man opened fire at his former school in the western suburbs of Rio de Janeiro, killing 12 students, before killing himself.
More recently, on March 13, 2019, two former students shot and killed eight people and wounded 11 others before killing themselves at a middle school in Suzano, in the Sao Paulo region.