Brazil News Wrap: Rio de Janeiro School Shooting Kills 12 – Forbes

The scene at the Tasso da Silveira Municipal School in Realengo, Rio de Janeiro on Thursday, April… [+] 7, 2011. A former student walked in and open fired on classrooms. It was the first school-based killing in the nation’s history.

A former student invaded and shot up the Tasso da Silveira Municipal School in Realengo in Rio de Janeiro state Thursday, immediately killing 11 young students between the ages of 12 and 14 years old, police officials said. It was the first school shooting in the nation’s history. 
A 12th student, a 13 year old boy, died at the Adão Pereira Nunes hospital after spending the day in critical condition.
Ever since the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado in April 1999, Brazilians have been thanking their lucky stars that no such copy cat crimes have ever taken place within their school system. Brazil’s public schools, especially in major cities like Rio, are mostly populated by low-income children.  And in cities as violent and crime ridden as Rio can be, one would think that a similar shoot out would have occurred by now in cities where there is easy access to firearms.
Brazil’s school culture is very different than US school culture. Where the US puts a large emphasis on those formative years and attaining high popularity status among ones peers, Brazilian students tend not to be pressured by that part of the classroom culture.  American school shooters were classmates, and often unpopular recluses who were bullied.  In this case, the Rio gunman, Wellington Menezes, was 10 year’s older than his average victim and graduated from the school way back in 1998.  Teachers referred to the school as a “calm” place, where students got along well.
Rio civil police chief, Martha Rocha, said Menezes did not have a criminal track record. Media reports said that the Vice Mayor of Realengo, Edmar Peixoto, had informed the police that Menezes left a strange note at the school saying that he was dying of AIDS. The note was given to authorities at 12:50 local time and has not been released to the press until later in the evening. The note said nothing about his dying of AIDS, but was full of religious rhetoric about impurity and asked for a priest to bless his grave so God and Jesus could forgive him.  He asked to be buried near his mother.
Menezes was an adopted child.  He had five syblings, but lived alone.  His 49-year-old sister Roselaine told BandNews Radio that, “he lived on line and had no friends. He was strange and very reserved.”  An ex-classmate in middle school, Bruno Dantas da Costa, told O Globo newspaper in Rio that Wellington avoided contact with his classmates.
Menezes was fired from his job in a food company in Rio in August 2010 for “lack of productivity”, his former boss told O Globo.
Here’s what O Globo is reporting on the school shootings.
Approximate timeline of event.
Victims were brought to the Albert Schweitzer hospital in Rio. Dozens of panic stricken parents and family members crowded around in tears with students and medical staff,  according to O Globo.
Francisco André, 28, cousin of one of the injured, said that he was told by his relative that Menezes entered the classroom and told all the students to raise their hands and close their eyes as he begins a lecture. “What I don’t understand is how does the school let in a guy that age into the building and not check him out first?”
Paulo Gomes, 47, said that his wife, a teacher at the school, had phoned him at 08:15 to tell him there was a gunman in the school. Gomes told O Globo that he left home immediately for the school and by the time he arrived, the police were already there. “When I got there I saw total chaos. There was a lot of blood and when I got closer I saw a student around 15 years old that was shot in the head; I was in shock. My wife is okay, but some of her students were killed,” he told O Globo.
Lucia Regina da Silva, a mother of a fifth grader who survived the attack, said that her daughter told her that older students had covered the bodies of younger students for protection when they heard the gunfire across the hall.  “She heard the children screaming in the other classrooms, but they couldn’t leave their room because the teachers had locked the doors,” she said. When she got to the school to get her daughter, she saw students leaving the building “covered in blood.”
President Dilma Rousseff called for a moment of silence when she first heard of the violence.  Jose Sarney, president of the Senate and a former President of the Brazil, called it an act of terrorism.


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