Gunman Opens Fire in Rio School: 11 Dead

By Patricia Maresch, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The country is shaken by a tragic shooting at the Municipal School Tasso da Silveira in Rio de Janeiro’s western Realengo area of Zona Oeste (West zone). A gunman killed nine girls and one boy between the ages of 12 and 14. Thirteen children are being treated in various hospitals, four of which are in critical condition.

Gunman Wellington Menezes de Oliveira, photo Divulgação.

Gunman Wellington Menezes de Oliveira, photo Divulgação.

The gunman is identified as 23-year-old Wellington Menezes de Oliveira, a former student at the school. Around 8:30AM, he entered the school saying he was going to give a workshop.

He then walked into a classroom where forty students in the eighth grade were studying Portuguese, an eyewitness told Brazilian TV: “Without a word he took out a pistol from his bag and started firing, aiming at victims’ heads.” He reportedly had two handguns and a lot of ammunition.

Teachers who heard the gunfire rapidly gathered their students in the school auditorium on the top floor. They barricaded the doors with tables and chairs to keep the gunman out, until the police arrived.

An eyewitness tells: “The police came and he tried to go up to the next floor but they surrounded him and shot him.” It’s still unclear whether Oliveira was killed by the police or if he killed himself.

In a letter explaining the reasons for his violent act, Oliveira confirms he planned the shooting and gives strict instructions on his funeral: “… no unpure person may touch me without gloves, only virgins or those who have lost their chastity after marriage, and were not involved in adultery may touch me without gloves.” He also writes he left a bag in the school holding a sheet in which he wants to be buried in.

A crowd of parents, family members, friends, neighbors and press arrived at the school shortly after the shooting. Many children were seen walking around in shock. One of the victim’s father said he was disgusted by the lack of security at the school, ”How can a man enter a school, go through two locked gates and no one asked to identify himself?”

Crowds gather at the school in Realengo, image recreation.

Crowds gather at the school in Realengo, image recreation.

Governor Sergio Cabral arrived at the school as well to see first hand the aftermath of what had happened. During a quickly organized press conference he called the shooter “an animal and a psychopath.” He ordered seven days of mourning in Rio de Janeiro.

Although Rio de Janeiro is infamous for its violence, never in the history of the city has a shooting of this kind has happened. The tragedy strongly reminds the people of Rio of Columbine High School in Littleton Colorado, 1999, where two students killed thirteen people on the school campus before they committed suicide.

“These things don’t happen in Brazil, they happen in the United States,” says 17-year-old high school student Carlos, adding, “I’ve seen a lot of violence in my short life, but never something like this. I am shocked it happened here.”

President Dilma Rousseff asked for a minute of silence during an event she was attending, when she was informed about the tragedy at Realengo. Rousseff became emotional and said she was disgusted by the act of violence against defenseless children. She canceled the rest of her program and got on the phone with the mayor of Rio, Eduardo Paes.

16 Responses to "Gunman Opens Fire in Rio School: 11 Dead"

  1. Antony Copland  April 7, 2011 at 6:00 PM

    My thoughts and prayers are with the families, the students, and the community of Rio De Janeiro. If anybody needs some words, advice, you’ve got one American’s help and I’m here for you. if anybody wants to talk or has other thoughts on this, feel free to leave them on that YouTube video I made. Take care.

  2. WHY!!!  April 7, 2011 at 8:00 PM

    “Who next will will die… from some senseless act of bloodshed?”

  3. BrazilLifestyle  April 8, 2011 at 12:24 AM

    Brazil is a mess most of the time, I hope this in coming time will be a low point as the country progresses into something wonderful!

    Rest in Peace to those lost today…

  4. BrazilianLover21  April 8, 2011 at 2:44 AM

    No i dissagree Brazil is deffinitally not a mess most of the time, its very ignorant of you to say that.Brazil is actually doing very well economically and politically so don’t judge the whole country over 1 physco person that happened to cause this mess, I do give my sorry and blessing to all the poor families thats are going trought this extremmelly difficult time, i can’t immagine what they are going trought no one deserves to be in this situation, im very hurt this happened!!

  5. Pingback: GenevaLunch » Rio school shootout deaths: 12, but 4 gravely injured

  6. Va Girl  April 8, 2011 at 8:53 AM

    Although they relate this as similar to Columbine…I live only 15 miles from VA Tech where Cho killed many college students and this is MUCH more like that incident.

    Cho also carried 2 pistols and opened fire without a word…also killing himself in the end when he was surrounded. Both this shooter and Cho were considered loners who spent much time on the computer.

    So sad for Brazil. I remember the numb feeling of being at work and hearing the college/school I’d passed by to get to my job less than an hour earlier was experiencing something so terrible it’s hard to understand. Those feelings hung in the air for weeks. Hopefully through this tragedy this small community will become stronger and closer. As with Cho and the Tech shootings we may never know what possessed this young man to do what he did. Sad world we live in today.

  7. Pingback: Brazil shocked by news of school shooting | Brazil Economics

  8. Tony hursi  April 8, 2011 at 9:47 PM

    I note that the psychopath wants to be buried in accordance with Islamic burial practices. Is there a chance that Brazil will be further hit by suicide killers of the type that have plagued the rest of the world?

  9. Barry Varkel  April 9, 2011 at 3:12 AM

    I am sorry, but as this was the first time for such an incident in Brazil, it should be treated as an isolated tragedy, and the result of a sad and mentally disturbed young man, who had his own psychological issues, rather than anything else. When it comes to school assassinations, no country on earth even comes a million miles close to the USA. I do remember though, an incident years ago in Sao Paulo where a kid in a cinema pulled out a gun and started shooting indiscriminately at the heads of people in the cinema. He, of course, was deranged and cited a video game as the reason for what he did. Obviously he couldn’t separate his video game world from the real world. The problem I see here, and this is a further debate that needs to be had, is that this contemporary era of facebook, technology, porn and violence, and believe me, I am not a prude, is causing a sense of dislocation of people from the real world. Young people need to learn that there are consequences to their actions and that behind everything they see and witness on the TV and internet, there is a real person and not just an image on a screen that can be eliminated when you go to another website or change channels. I am not advocating for any sort of control in the form of legislation, because one cannot legislate common sense, but there is room for some sort of awareness/life skills campaign to be taught to our youth in respect of what I am trying to say here. Gun control also needs to be tightened up, but with the low level of salaries in Brazil being paid to cops, in order to prevent them from trafficking in their own and others’ weapons, this is a whole other political issue to be dealt with.

    I am most interested to see what pragmatic steps President Rousseff and Rio’s mayor come up with to address such issues, which are not a USA type police clamp-down and destruction of basic rights and freedoms.

  10. Diogenes  April 11, 2011 at 1:41 AM

    Question arises whether psychiatrc drugs were involved in this latest school shooting.US FDA requires warning labels on the drugs sold in USA. Does Brazil inform its citizens too? Psychiatric drugs are known to cause violent thoughts and suicidal thoughts especially in children.

  11. Barry Varkel  April 12, 2011 at 3:29 AM

    @Diogenes, I seriously doubt that this kid was on psychiatric medication. I doubt even more he or his family could even afford normal medication, never mind psychiatric medication. Why would you place a US medical standard on a third world country like Brazil? Everybody knows that the US has the highest anti-depressant usage rate in the world. This, strangely enough, does not imply that the US suffers from the highest rate of mental illness in the world; all it means is that, in the US, popping a pill can cure any problem you have without you having to take any personal responsibility for your own misfortune. Brazil is not the US. What works there doesn’t work in Brazil. Sadly. Or not so sadly.

  12. Mark palermo  April 13, 2011 at 12:13 AM

    This massacre of senseless violence reeks of a classic murder/suicide of an antidepressant induced psychosis. All of the benchmarks are there. All that is needed is an honest, thorough investigation. My suspicion is clearly that he was on violence and suicide inducing psychiatric drugs, namely antidepressants. In the US, the vast majority of school shooters were on antidepressants, from Columbine to Virginia Tech. The writing is on the wall. Get the evidence. All that is needed is a truthful and thorough autopsy. More school shootings hang in the balance. Look at the US.

  13. Pingback: The Aftermath | The Rio Times

  14. Pingback: After the Tragedy, Which Way Forward? | The Rio Times

  15. Pingback: Rio School Shooter Bullied | The Rio Times

  16. Pingback: Brazil Needs to Double Down on Responsible Gun Control | The Rio Times | Brazil News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.