Brazil Mourns Children Gunned Down at School
Brazil had never gone through a tragedy like this. Just after 8 a.m. on Thursday, Wellington Menezes de Oliveira, 24, opened fire on dozens of children aged 12 to 14 at the school, which he had attended — firing at least 66 shots before he turned one of his two revolvers on himself. The children who escaped death in Realengo are likely to never be the same, they and their family members said Saturday.
Ricceli Ponce said he survived only because his geography teacher heard the shots and locked her students in a classroom. “I decided to look under the door to see where he was, and it was then that I saw his shadow moving back and forth, and suddenly he banged on our door,” said Ricceli, 15. “Then the police arrived.”
The boy vowed he would never go back to the school. “I am not having nightmares because I am not sleeping,” he said. “Every time I close my eyes I can only see those images of gunshots and blood in the corridors.”
Jade Ramos, 12, helped a group of girls who got lost during the shooting spree make their way down a stairwell. On Friday Jade woke up in the middle of the night and said she was scared and wanted to sleep with her mother. “I have been crying and Jade has been drying my tears,” her mother, Lucia Ramos, said.
News of the school shooting filled the airwaves and newspapers as the country tried to come to grips with a collective sadness it has not shared in years. Over and over again television stations played a video, captured by a security camera, of children running frantically to escape.
The episode sparked cries for more gun control in Brazil, as investigators revealed that at least one of the guns that Mr. Oliveira used, a .32-caliber revolver, had been sold to him illegally. The police arrested two men on Saturday in connection with the sale. The other gun, a .38-caliber revolver that Mr. Oliveira reloaded at least nine times using “speed loaders” from a belt he wore, had its serial number scratched off, the police said.
While concerns persist about heavy arms sales across Brazil’s lengthy borders, most of the handguns used in everyday crime are made here.
An investigation by Brazil’s Congress in 2006 found that 68 percent of a cache of guns confiscated from criminals in Rio de Janeiro had been sold by eight stores in the state, according to Antonio Rangel Bandeira, the coordinator of the Arms Control Project of Viva Rio, a nongovernmental group. He said that arms legislation was not enforced.
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