Two young men wearing hoods and carrying guns, knives and crossbows opened fire at a school in southern Brazil on Wednesday, killing eight people before taking their own lives, authorities said.
The dead included six students and two teachers, and several other people were hospitalized with injuries, according to Gov. Joao Doria, speaking a few blocks from the public school in Suzano, a suburb of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city.
The attackers appeared to be in their early to mid-20s, and authorities don’t believe they were former students, the governor said.
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.
Students gathered outside the school recounted harrowing attacks and seeing several bodies lying in pools of blood.
“We were at recess and eating like normal and we heard three pops, then we tried to run to 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.
“My friend was stabbed in the shoulder and my other friend was shot,” she said. “I escaped with one friend and went home and then came back to look for another friend.”
Horacio Pereira Nunes, a retiree whose house is next to the school, said he began hearing shots around 10 a.m.
“Then a lot of kids started running out, all screaming,” he said. “It didn’t take long until police arrived.”
The public school, Raul Brasil Professor, has more than 1,600 students from elementary to high school grades, teachers gathered outside said.
Latin America’s most populous nation has the largest number of annual homicides in the world, but school shootings are rare.
In 2011, 12 students were killed by a gunman who roamed the halls of a school in Rio de Janeiro, shooting at them.
President Jair Bolsonaro ran on a platform that included promises to crack down on criminals, in part by expanding public access to guns. Soon after being inaugurated Jan. 1, Bolsonaro issued a decree making it easier for people wanting a gun to buy and possess one.
Standing outside the school, Claudio Cabral said he had been trying to reach his nephew, 17-year-old Douglas Mourinho, so far without luck.
“He is a smart kid. We heard many students jumped the wall,” Cabral said hopefully. “Maybe that’s what happened.”
SOURCE: The Associated Press, Mauricio Savarese and Anna Jean Kaiser