Several were killed in two school shootings in Brazil

At least three people, including a teenage girl, were killed and 11 others wounded Friday when a 16-year-old gunman wearing Nazi symbols opened fire on two schools in southeastern Brazil, officials said.

Authorities in the city of Aracruz, in Espirito Santo state, said the gunman opened fire on a group of teachers at his former school, killing two people and wounding nine others.

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He then left that school – a public elementary and high school – and went to a nearby private school where he killed a teenage girl and injured two other people, officials said.

Authorities have arrested the shooter, said Governor Renato Casagrande, who declared three days of mourning in the state.

“He was a student at (the first) school until June, a 16-year-old minor. His family then transferred him to another school. We have information that he underwent psychiatric treatment,” Casagrande told a news conference. He said some of the survivors’ lives were still in danger as a result of their wounds. “We are rooting and praying for their recovery,” he said.

Footage from security cameras broadcast on Brazilian media showed the shooter running into the school dressed in military-style camouflage and brandishing a gun. He then sprinted through the corridors, sending staff fleeing in terror as he opened fire.

Investigators said he had a swastika on his fatigues and were looking into whether he had links to any extremist organizations.

Officials said the shooter, the son of a police officer, used two handguns in the attack, both registered to his father — one his service firearm, the other a privately registered weapon.

Casagrande said the boy appeared to have carefully planned the attack, breaking in through a locked door and bypassing the school’s security guard.

He then entered the teacher’s room – the first room he came to – and opened fire, the governor said.

“He was out to shoot people. He opened fire on the first people he encountered,” he said.

Civilian police commissioner Joao Francisco Filho told reporters that it appeared the suspect had been planning the attack for “two years” and that he did not appear to have a “definite target.”

Investigators could be seen carrying the victims’ bodies in coffins and loading them into police cars outside the school, which was cordoned off with crime scene tape, an AFP photographer said. The city has a population of approximately 100,000 people.

“Absurd Tragedy”

School shootings are relatively rare in Brazil, but have increased in recent years. Brazil’s deadliest school shooting left 12 children dead in 2011, when a man opened fire at his former elementary school in the Rio de Janeiro suburb of Realengo, then killed himself.

In 2019, two former students shot dead eight people at a high school in Suzano, outside Sao Paulo, and then also took their own lives. Brazil’s president-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called the latest shootings an “absurd tragedy.”

“I was saddened to hear about the attacks,” he wrote on Twitter.

Com tristeza soube do attack as escolas de Aracruz, Espírito Santo. Minha solidariedade aos familiares das les trégés des tragédia absurda. E meu apoio ao governador @Casagrande_ES na apuração do caso e amparo para as comunidades das duas escolas atingidas.

— Lula (@LulaOfficial) November 25, 2022

“All my solidarity with the families of the victims… and my support to Governor Casagrande for the investigation and assistance to the two school communities.”

Lula, who previously served as Brazil’s president from 2003 to 2010, takes office on January 1 after defeating far-right President Jair Bolsonaro in elections last month.

He has been sharply critical of Bolsonaro’s dramatic relaxation of gun control laws.

Since former army captain Bolsonaro became president in 2019, the number of registered gun owners in Brazil has more than quintupled, from 117,000 to 673,000, boosted by a series of presidential decrees relaxing firearms and ammunition regulations.

Public security expert Bruno Langeani of the Sou da Paz research institute told AFP that the outgoing administration’s policies had made such attacks more likely. “In recent years, the increase in the availability of firearms promoted by Bolsonaro’s government facilitates this type of episode,” he said.

The latest attacks led to calls for reform of the weapons policy. “Gun policy must be reviewed,” tweeted senator-elect Wellington Dias, a Lula ally.

(AFP)

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