A 25-year-old man burst into a nursery and killed four children with an ax Wednesday in southern Brazil, an attack described as "monstrous" by President Lula.
The tragedy took place in the morning, in a private nursery where there were about forty children in Blumenau, a city of about 360,000 inhabitants in the state of Santa Catarina.
"The perpetrator of the attack jumped over the wall of the nursery armed with a small ax (...) He used it to strike the children, especially at the level of the head", has explained during a press briefing the head of firefighters Diogo de Souza Clarindo.
According to him the victims, three boys and a girl, were between five and seven years old. The assailant also injured four children, all hospitalized "in stable condition", the local Santo Antonio hospital told AFP.
"I thank God for every moment I spent with my son," Bruno Bridi, father of five-year-old Bernardo, killed by the assailant, told reporters.
The media showed images of small bodies covered in white sheets in the courtyard of the nursery, and of a sobbing woman carrying in her arms her son who survived the attack.
Military Police said the suspect fled on a motorbike after the attack, but later drove to a police station and was taken into custody.
According to several media, citing police sources, he was in the midst of a "psychotic crisis" at the time of the attack, and had no connection with the crèche.
He had been arrested at least four times by police before, one of them after stabbing his stepfather, authorities said.
The town hall of Blumenau decreed an official 30-day mourning and canceled classes at all municipal schools on Wednesday.
In a testimony to the Metropoles site, Simone Aparecida Camargo, an employee of the crèche said she hid babies in the toilets to protect them from the assailant. "He came to kill," she said.
“My wife is in shock,” the husband of one of the nursery workers told reporters, including AFP. "She told me that when the guy left she tried to resuscitate a child, but couldn't."
This new attack in a school has aroused great emotion in the country. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva immediately sent a message of condolence to the families, condemning this "monstrous" act.
"There is no greater pain for a family than losing children, or grandchildren, especially in an act of violence against innocent and helpless children", tweeted the head of state .
The killer “is nothing human, he must have come from another planet, the planet of hate,” Lula said later that day during an official ceremony in Brasilia. “There are no words to console the families”.
The Minister of Justice, Flavio Dino, announced that the government would release 150 million reais (about 27 million euros) to strengthen security in schools.
Attacks on schools have increased in Brazil in recent years. In November, a sixteen-year-old boy killed four people at two schools in Aracruz, in the southeastern state of Espirito Santo.
Last week, a 71-year-old teacher was stabbed to death by a 13-year-old student in Sao Paulo (southeast), Brazil's most populous city and economic capital.
A tragedy also took place at a crèche in 2017, when a man set fire to the establishment, killing nine children and a teacher and injuring around 40 people.
The deadliest attack took place in 2011, when a former elementary school student killed 12 children before ending his life with a gun, in the popular neighborhood of Realengo, in Rio de Janeiro ( South East).
05/04/2023 23:06:25 - Blumenau (Brésil) (AFP) - © 2023 AFP