A gunman entered an elementary school in Rio Thursday and shot dead 12 children and himself, according to Xinhua.
Among the dead are 10 girls and two boys, all between the ages of 12 and 15. At least 11 children were injured and taken to hospitals. Most of them were girls.
The gunman was identified as 23-year-old Wellington Oliveira, who entered the Tasso da Silveira school in a working-class neighborhood in western Rio at about 8 a.m.(1100 GMT) under the pretext of giving a speech.
As the school was celebrating its 40th anniversary, some former students were to deliver speeches. As a former student himself, Oliveira was granted access to the building without difficulties.
He carried in his bag two .38 revolvers and equipment to quickly reload the weapons, which he reportedly did several times.
Some 400 children were in the school at the time of the attack.
According to witnesses and doctors, Oliveira entered an eighth grade class and opened fire at the students, mainly at girls.
He kept shooting at students in several classrooms, causing chaos and despair among the children. According to some survivors, many children passed out, and others tried to escape.
"He shot the children`s feet so they could not run away and told them to turn their heads to the wall. Some kids said, `Don`t shoot me, mister, please,` but he shot them in the head," said 12-year-old Jade Ramos de Araujo, who returned to the school hours later to thank the policemen who saved her and her classmates` lives.
"I thought, my God, what was going to happen to me?" she said. "I did not look at him for fear that he would memorize my face and decide to kill me."
Another student, 13-year-old Mateus Moraes, said the gunman was mainly targeting girls.
"He shot the girls in the head, but the boys in the arms and legs," he said. "I asked him not to kill me, and he said, `Relax, fatty, I will not kill you.`"
Oliveira was heading to an upper floor when he was cornered by police sergeant Marcio Alves, who asked him to drop the weapon. As Oliveira refused to do so, the policeman shot him in the leg. Oliveira then committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.
Alves was called a hero by Rio`s Governor Sergio Cabral, but the sergeant regretted he was unable to do more.
"Had I arrived five minutes earlier, I would have prevented it (the killings)."
AN ODD MAN
Relatives, neighbors and former schoolmates of Oliveira described him as a quiet man who kept to himself most of the time.
None of them remember any violence involving Oliveira, and most of them expressed their surprise after hearing of the shooting.
Oliveira lived near the Tasso da Silveira school until last year, when he moved from his sister`s house to another community.
It is not known why Oliveira shot the schoolchildren and where he got the guns. The police searched his home and found some destroyed computer equipment.
Brazil`s President Dilma Rousseff expressed shock and dismay over the tragedy, and declared three days of national mourning over the murdered children. She said she would do her best to attend the children`s funerals on Friday.
Some Rio residents donated their blood to victims of the shooting.
Over 900 people showed up at a blood donation center in Rio on Thursday, including 70 police officers from a nearby brigade. The donors had to wait an average three hours to make their contribution.
On the same day, Rio`s teachers` union called for a 24-hour strike on Friday, demanding more security in public schools.