A pair of young men entered a Brazilian school and opened fire, killing eight people before taking their own lives, according to Reuters.
The two gunmen, wearing masks and hoodies, walked into the Raul Brasil school in Suzano, Sao Paulo State, Brazil, and started shooting at 9:30 a.m. when students were on a snack break. Among the dead are six school children, two school officials and a person who was standing just outside the school at a nearby carwash, according to Sao Paulo police.
At least 17 other people, mostly children, were also shot and taken to hospitals, in which several are in serious condition. (RELATED: Woman Reportedly Booted From Gun Hearing After Threatening To Shoot Lawmakers, NRA Members)
JUST IN: School shooting in Brazil, 9 dead, including 5 children. pic.twitter.com/5wYHQ9k7cC
— euronews (@euronews) March 13, 2019
“I was in the classroom during our break. I thought [the sound] was from bombs,” said teacher Sandra Perez. “When I realized they were gunshots, I stayed there. I only left when the police arrived.”
The names and identities of the victims and the attacks have yet to be released and the motive for the attack is not clear.
“It’s a very sad scene — the saddest thing I’ve seen in my entire life,” said Sao Paulo Governor João Doria. “The teenagers who were brutally murdered.”
Aged between 20 and 25 years old, the alleged attackers are not believed by police to be former students of the school that has some 1,000 primary and secondary students. The school has students ranging from six-to-18 years old. At the time of the shooting, reportedly, only secondary students were at the school. (RELATED: Angry Brazilian Mobs Murder Someone Almost Every Day, Authorities Say)
Sao Paulo Commander of Police Forces Marcelo Salles said that the gunmen used “at least one .38 caliber pistol, along with homemade bombs and a crossbow” in an attack that was an “unspeakably brutal crime.”
Earlier in the day, a man was injured in another shooting near the school, but police are investigating to see whether both cases are connected.
Even though Brazil is one of the most violent countries in the world, it is rare to see school shootings in the South American country. Before Wednesday, the last school shooting in Brazil occurred in 2011 when 12 children were killed by a former student in a Rio de Janeiro school. (RELATED: Brazil’s New President Thanks Trump – Vows To Bring Prosperity ‘Under God’s Protection’)
Gun laws have been extremely strict in Brazil since 2003 when former leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva signed measures that prevented ordinary citizens from carrying guns. The law mandated background checks and gave federal police the right to reject applications for gun ownership for any reason.
However, current Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro signed a temporary decree in January that made it easier for citizens to buy guns in an effort to overturn the strict regulations of the past.