Students among eight killed in school shooting near Sao Paulo

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Two young men wearing hoods and masks, carrying guns, knives and crossbows, opened fire at a school in southern Brazil, killing eight people before taking their own lives, authorities said.

The incident, at the school in Suzano, a suburb of Sao Paulo, took place in the early hours of Wednesday after two young men were seen entering the building and firing weapons before committing suicide, police said.

Police said that two adolescents entered the building and started shooting at about 9:30am local time (06:30 GMT).

The dead included six students and two teachers, while several wounded people were taken to the hospitals, according to Governor Joao Doria.

The students who died were mostly 15 and 16 years old.

A video aired by Globo TV showed children screaming, running and begging for their lives as shots were heard all around.

Security cameras from homes near the school showed children climbing and jumping over a white wall that surrounds the Raul Brasil building, and sprinting down the streets, screaming for help. 

Before entering the school, the assailants, aged 17 and 25 and former pupils of the school, shot and killed the owner of a car rental agency from which they had stolen a vehicle.

Governor Doria said the school had been evacuated and police were inspecting what appeared to be possible explosives left by the shooters.

“The school is on lockdown,” he said.

Even though Brazil is one of the world’s most violent countries, school shootings are rare.

The last major school shooting was in 2011, when 12 children were shot dead by a former pupil in Rio de Janeiro.

‘We tried to run and jump over the walls’

Students gathered outside the school recounted the harrowing attack and seeing several bodies lying in a pool of blood.

“We were at recess and eating when we heard three pops. We then tried to run and jump over the walls,” Rosni Marcelo Grotliwed, a 15-year-old student, told G1 news portal.

She said the attackers had guns and knives, and when she ran to the principal’s office, she saw many dead people.

“One of my friends was stabbed in the shoulder and another was shot,” she said. “I escaped with one friend and went home and then came back to look for another friend.”

Marcelo Salles, commander of police forces in Sao Paulo state, said he had “never seen anything like this” in his more-than-three-decades of service.

“It was an unspeakably brutal crime,” said Salles.

Salles said the gunmen used at least one .38 caliber pistol and speed loaders, along with a crossbow and homemade bombs.

While gun laws are extremely strict in Brazil, it is not difficult to buy a weapon illegally.

Brazil’s new President Jair Bolsonaro recently announced that gun ownership controls would be relaxed.

However, the president is also trying to lower the age in which children can be detained. 

“Today, the Supreme Court in Brazil is debating a measure that [Bolsonaro] put forward to try to lower the age in which children can be detained by the police [or] can be questioned,” said Al Jazeera’s Daniel Schweimler.

“We don’t know yet the ages of the two attackers [of today shooting] but some assume they may well have been former pupils [of the school], or of a similar age than the children, that is still being investigated,” he added.

Worried family members congregated outside the school after the shooting [Mauricio Sumiya/AP Photo]

SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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