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Twelve Elementary Children Killed In Rio's Most Horrific Massacre

Twelve Elementary Children Killed In Rio's Most Horrific Massacre

This frame grab from local media video shows an undated image of Wellington Oliveira, the alleged suspect in a school shooting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Thursday April 7, 2011.

Associated Press

April 08, 2011

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Stalking the halls of his one-time elementary school, 23-year-old Wellington Oliveira killed 10 girls and two boys, most with shots to their heads even as children begged him to stop, witnesses said.

Oliveira then took his own life after police gunfire struck his legs and sent him toppling down some stairs, but not before carrying out what crime experts are calling the worst school massacre in Brazil’s history.

Witnesses said he entered the Tasso da Silveira school in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday armed with two pistols and an ammunition belt, shooting at students and repeatedly yelling: “I’m going to kill you all!”

“He had already killed a lot of children in the first floor and in the yard,” student Jade Ramos told the Globo television network. “He kept telling the kids to face the wall and was shooting at their heads. The children kept begging, ‘No, please!’ There was a lot of blood, children agonizing on the stairs.”

Ramos said she escaped by running into a classroom, where a teacher locked the door and barricaded it with tables. Images taken with a cellphone and posted on YouTube showed students fleeing wildly, screaming for help, many with their white and blue school shirts soaked in blood.

Families still reeling from the attack were planning for the funerals of their children Friday, while Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said she would do her best to attend the memorials.

“I ask for one minute of silence for these children who were taken so early from their life,” Rousseff said, her eyes welling with tears. “It’s not in the nature of our nation to have these types of crimes.”

With a dozen children dead, 11 more were in hospitals for wounds or other injuries, at least two of them reported in grave condition. The ages of the children were not immediately known, though the school serves grades one through eight.

Elias da Silva paced outside a hospital waiting for news of his nephew, a 14-year-old boy who slipped on a pool of blood and twisted his ankle as he fled the school pulling along a friend during a moment when the gunman stopped to reload. His nephew escaped, but the girl was shot in the back and died, the uncle said.

“I asked God for him to come out alive and he did,” Silva said. “He came out running and still thought to try to save his friend. This is going to be difficult for him to understand.”

Andreia Machado tearfully recounted what her 13-year-old daughter, Thayane, told her before going into surgery.

Thayane was struck by three bullets and lost feeling in her legs because one hit her spine, the mother said. With tears streaking her cheeks, Machado wondered if her daughter would ever be able to walk.

“She’s such an active child,” she said. “That’s the biggest fear I have, her not being able to walk again. But we have to trust in God.”

Officials said Oliveira had once attended the Tasso da Silveira school in a working-class neighborhood in western Rio.

The motive for the attack wasn’t known, but authorities said the shooter left a rambling and mostly incoherent letter at the scene indicating he wanted to kill himself.

The letter also explained in detail how…

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