Two young men, wearing hoods and carrying several weapons, opened fire at a school in southern Brazil on Wednesday, killing eight people before taking their own lives, the governor of Sao Paulo said.
The men, identified as former students at the school, ages 17 and 25, also shot and killed the owner of a used car business nearby before launching the attack on the school in Suzano, a suburb of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, authorities said.
Besides the five students, the dead included a teacher and a school administrator, said Joao Camilo Pires de Campos, the state’s public secretary. Nine others were wounded in the school attack and hospitalized, he said.
“This is the saddest day of my life,” de Campos said.
Big question is why, say officials
“The big question is: what was the motivation of these former students?” de Castro said.
The 17-year-old opened fire with a .38 caliber handgun and the 25-year-old used a crossbow, de Campos said, adding that forensics would determine how the victims died.
The attackers were also carrying Molotov cocktails, knives and axes, authorities said.
“In 34 years as a policeman, it’s the first time I’ve seen someone use a crossbow like that,” police Col. Marcelo Salles said. “It is horrendous.”
The attackers were trying to force their way inside a room at the back of the school where many students were hiding when police arrived. Instead of facing police, they turned their weapons on themselves, authorities said without elaborating.
The public school, Raul Brasil Professor (translated in English), has more than 1,600 students from elementary to high school grades, teachers gathered outside said.
Doria said the school had been evacuated and police were inspecting what appeared to be possible explosives left by the gunmen.
‘We heard 3 pops’
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, 15, told G1 news portal.
“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.”
Latin America’s largest nation has the highest number of annual homicides in the world, but school shootings are rare.
Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, recently announced gun ownership controls would be loosened.
The last major school shooting was in 2011, when 12 children were shot dead by a former pupil in Rio de Janeiro.
While gun laws are considered strict in Brazil, it is not difficult to illegally purchase a weapon.
This story originally appeared on CBC