SÃO PAULO, Brazil — At least five students were killed in Brazil on Wednesday when two assailants, both former students, broke into a school and opened fire, police officials said.
The attackers also killed two employees at the Professor Raul Brasil school in Suzano, a satellite city of São Paulo, and injured at least nine other students. The police said the assailants fatally shot the owner of a nearby car rental outlet on their way to the school.
The attackers killed themselves after their rampage.
The police said the students killed were all about 15 years old.
“It’s the saddest scene I’ve witnessed in my whole life,” the São Paulo governor, João Doria, said after visiting the school. He declared three days of mourning.
The president, Jair Bolsonaro, expressed his condolences via Twitter, calling the attack a “monstrosity and cowardice without comparison.”
The police identified the assailants as Luiz Henrique de Castro, 25, and Guilherme Taucci Monteiro, 17, who was enrolled as recently as last year. Officials said they were still investigating possible motives.
Security video footage showed the attackers pulling up to the front gate of the public school, which has more than 1,000 students. The assailants entered the campus about 9:30 a.m. local time, when students would have been on a snack break.
The police near the Professor Raul Brasil school in Suzano, Brazil, on Wednesday, after a shooting there. The school’s students range in age from 8 to 16, local news reports said.CreditNelson Almeida/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
According to the police, the assailants most likely did not arouse suspicions because they were both former students.
The attackers wore masks during the attack and were armed with a handgun outfitted with an automatic reloader, a crossbow, a hatchet and fake explosives, the police said.
“This is an incredibly sad episode for the families, for Suzano and São Paulo and all of Brazil,” the state secretary of public security, Gen. João Camilo Pires de Campo, said at a news conference.
While gun violence is common in Brazil, school shootings are relatively rare. One happened in 2011, when a former student shot and killed 12 children at a school in Realengo, in the state of Rio de Janeiro.
Critics of Mr. Bolsonaro, Brazil’s new right-wing president, pointed out that Wednesday’s attack came as he has made it easier for Brazilians to have firearms.
Amateur video of the attack posted on social media showed bodies on the ground and students screaming and running.
One distraught mother told Globo News, a Brazilian television network, that her 12-year-old daughter called her in the middle of the shooting. “She said, ‘Mom, come quick. There’s been a lot of shooting. People are injured, people are dead.’”
A school cook serving snacks said she hustled about 50 children into the kitchen as soon as she realized what was going on and pushed the freezer in front of the door.
“We had to remain calm because we had children inside with us,” the cook, Silmara Cristina Silva de Moraes, told Globo News. “But it was nerve-racking because there was a lot of shooting, a lot, and a lot of panic.”