SAO PAULO (AFP) – Two former pupils shot dead eight people, most of them students and staff, at a high school near Sao Paulo on Wednesday before turning their weapons on themselves, authorities said.
Military police Colonel Marcelo Sales said two assailants burst into the school grounds in the early morning, armed with a .38 calibre revolver and a “medieval weapon that looked like a bow and arrows”.
After shooting at students in the yard, the killers headed to the language centre where several pupils were hiding and “committed suicide in a corridor”, Sales said.
“Eight people died at the scene, including the two assailants,” a state military police spokesman said. “Two injured people died after being taken to hospital.”
Among the victims were two members of staff – a counsellor and a warden – and the owner of a nearby car wash, who was shot by the attackers before they arrived at the school, said Sao Paulo’s Public Security Secretary Joao Pires de Campos.
All the victims died of gunshot wounds, the state military police spokesman said.
Nine more people were injured in the shooting at the Raul Brasil public school in Suzano, on the outskirts of Sao Paulo in southeast Brazil.
“It’s the saddest thing I’ve ever seen,” said Sao Paulo State Governor Joao Doria.
President Jair Bolsonaro expressed his sympathies on Twitter to “the families of this inhumane attack,” describing it as “a monstrosity and enormous cowardice”.
The two assailants, who were wearing hoods, were identified as former pupils aged 17 and 25. The reasons for the attack are unknown.
Worried family members quickly arrived at the school alongside firefighters and security services.
“I found out when my daughter called me and said: Mommy, come quickly, there are injured people, dead people,” said the mother of one pupil, who gave her name only as Rosa.
The attack took place at around 9.30am during a recess period for some students, authorities said.
Website UO1 said the two killers “entered the school shooting with their heads covered by a hood”.
Another website, G1, published a grainy video purportedly taken inside the school in which the screams of terrified pupils can be heard as they come across dead classmates.
“We locked ourselves in a classroom,” said Milene Querren Cardoso.
“We tried to help each other until the door opened and we thought it was the criminals coming for us; but no, it was the police… and we ran out.”
Globonews showed video images of pupils fleeing the scene after escaping over a wall.
Education Minister Ricardo Velez published a statement offering “solidarity with the parents, families and staff at the school in this moment of shock, mourning and pain.”