Twelve dead at Brazilian school after man opens fire

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Twelve people died during a shooting at a school in the neighborhood Realengo in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro. The gunman is numbered among the dead, after taking his own life. Ten people are reported injured during the attack by a man identified as Wellington Menezes Olivera, a 23 year old ex-student from the school.

The attack took place just after 8am local time (11:00 GMT) this morning. Television station TV Globo reported that Olivera entered the Tasso da Silveira municipal school, telling officials that he was attending to make a speech to students. He was reportedly carrying at least two revolvers and a significant amount of ammunition.

Witnesses state that he began to fire at pupils' heads, killing ten girls and one boy. Rio state health secretary, Sergio Cortes, stated that those injured in the attack were taken to local hospitals. At least four were said to be in a "grave" condition.

Rio's Police chief, Martha Rocha, said in a press conference that the gunman had no previous criminal history. She stated that he was carrying 2 firearms, although she did not specify what type. During the attack he fired off at least 30 rounds of ammunition. There were approximately 400 people in the school when the attack began, and shortly after the shooting started, two small boys outside the school, one with a gunshot wound, ran almost two city blocks until they found police and alerted them to the incident.

Cquote1.svg "Life at the four-storey school pastel green and yellow school was turned into a hellish nightmare. This day would have been so much worse if it weren't for the hero policeman." Cquote2.svg

—Mayor of Rio, Eduardo Paes

The two officers who were made aware ran to the school, and quickly managed to locate the gunman, leading to a shooting match. One officer, Marcio Alves, stated that "He saw me and aimed a gun at me, I shot him in the legs, he fell down the stairs and then shot himself in the head."

Police report that Olivera was carrying a "long and rambling" letter, confirming his intentions to commit suicide.

In a statement by the Mayor of Rio, Eduardo Paes, he made it clear that life at the school had become a "hellish nightmare." Authorities closed the school temporarily while they investigate, but Mayor Paes confirmed that the school will reopen.

The fate of all the children in the school is not yet known. One eleven year old pupil from the school, Wanderson Barbosa, was interviewed by Associated Press as he sat on the steps of his house. He was in his classroom when the attack started, and he and others in his class thought that other students were fighting, until his teacher told them to get to the floor, because it was gunfire.

"I'm so worried," Barbosa said to reporters, "We don't have news of everyone yet."

Meanwhile, Rio's Governor, Sergio Cabral, called the attacker a "psychopath", whilst indicating that he does not believe anyone else was involved in the attack, but that investigations into the incident will continue.