São Paulo, Brazil – A 25-year-old man broke into a daycare center in Blumenau, in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina, and killed four children between the ages of four and seven with a hatchet. Five other children were injured.
After the attack, which took place Wednesday morning, the suspect surrendered and was arrested by local police.
Police are investigating the motive for the attack. What is known so far is that the suspect jumped the daycare wall, attacking the children on the playground. According to police, the man has a criminal record involving drug possession, causing injury and property damage.
Officer Ulisses Gabriel said that the police are investigating whether more people were involved in the planning of the crime and whether the attack was organized over the internet.
“We want to identify if anyone else participated in the crime, how the suspect organized this plan, where he got information about the daycare center,” the policeman said.
Teacher protected babies
Upon realizing that a man had invaded the daycare center, a teacher locked the babies in the bathroom. Simone Aparecida Camargo said that, initially, she believed it was a robbery and her immediate reaction was to protect babies under one year old.
“We thought it was a robbery because he broke into the school. I just locked the babies in the bathroom, then my colleague came to the door saying that he ‘came killing’ and hit the kindergarten class who were all in the playground,” she said.
The governor of Santa Catarina, Jorginho Mello, expressed solidarity with the families of the victims and said that anyone who commits an act of this nature “cannot be considered a human being.” President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called the attack a “monstrosity,” an “unacceptable tragedy” and “cowardice.”
Two attacks in a few days
The attack on the daycare center in Blumenau was the second act of violence at a Brazilian school in the past 10 days.
On March 27, a 13-year-old boy stabbed four teachers and one student at a public school in São Paulo.
One teacher, 71-year-old Elizabeth Tenreiro, died from her injuries. The other victims recovered well.
Read more: Teenager kills teacher, wounds 4 others in São Paulo school knife attack
The two murders sparked discussion about the lack of a national plan to avoid violent attacks on schools. The federal government announced this Wednesday its intent to create a working group on the matter involving many different ministries.
The group’s objective would be to develop a national policy to combat violence in schools. It’s not yet known when a decree to order the establishment of the working group will be issued, nor when the working group will be implemented.
Crimes like this used to be rare in Brazil
Although violence in Brazilian classrooms is common, mass attacks of this nature, like those seen in schools across the United States, are not. In the past 20 years there have been 23 violent attacks in schools in Brazil, according to a study from Campinas University (Unicamp). In 2022, the U.S. recorded 51 school shootings resulting in injury or death.
However, there have been a few major attacks at educational institutions in the past few years, including last November, when a 16-year-old armed with a gun and donning Nazi insignia stormed into his high school in Aracruz, Espírito Santo and killed two people, wounding 11 others.
In March 2019, two young men, 17 and 25, went on a killing spree which included the murder of one of their family members, along with five students and two teachers from their local school in Suzano, São Paulo. The attacks were attributed to bullying suffered by the young men, and the rampage ended with a murder suicide of the two suspects.
In October 2017, a 14-year-old opened fire at a school in Goiania, killing two students and wounding four others, and in in 2011, in Rio de Janeiro, a 23-year-old former students killed 12 people and injured 22 at his former high school before committing suicide.