BLUMENAU, BRITAN: Authorities said a man wielding a hatchet rushed into a day care center in Brazil on Wednesday, murdering four children in an incident that rocked the country and put pressure on the government to stem a rising tide of violence.
At least four additional children were injured in the attack in Blumenau, a city of 366,000 people near the Atlantic coast in southern Brazil.
Officials said the offender, who entered by hopping over a wall, brought himself in at a police station. He appeared to have no ties to the institution, which provides nursery care, preschool instruction, and after-school activities. The victims were between the ages of 5 and 7, according to police.
Ronnie Esteves, the police investigator in charge of the inquiry, told television reporters that authorities were looking for a motive.
Within hours of the incident, the justice and education ministers promised to invest in new violence-prevention initiatives.
Valeria Aparecida Camilo, the center’s mother, said she was working when a colleague saw the news. Gustavo, her husband, hurried to the school and later heard that their daughter had survived.
“It was a relief to see her,” Gustavo Camilo told The Associated Press outside the center. “But we’re sorry for everything that has happened, especially with the other kids who have died.”
“They have no cruelty because they are children,” Valeria continued. “They are five years old. “What could a 5-year-old have done to this person?”
One of the girls killed, according to Franciele Chequeto, was friends with her 7-year-old son, Gabriel.
“He wasn’t getting it,” Chequeto added. “I sat him down and informed him that he would no longer be able to see some of his little friends.”
Ulisses Gabriel, the state’s civil police commander, stated that the attacker was a 25-year-old male from neighboring Parana state. He will face murder and attempted murder charges. According to Gabriel, police believe the attack was an isolated incident unrelated to any previous crimes.
Images seen on television showed parents sobbing outside the Cantinho do Bom Pastor private day care center.
According to the local affiliate of television network Globo, the attack occurred on the center’s playground. The affiliate, NSC, displayed a photograph of the man with a closely shaved head. His identification has yet to be confirmed by police.
Mário Hildebrandt, the mayor of Blumenau, has canceled classes and declared a 30-day period of mourning. Any claims of such attacks or threats against schools in the region, according to authorities, are untrue.
School shootings have become more common in Brazil in recent years. Last week, a student in Sao Paulo stabbed a teacher to death and injured several others.
At least one previous attack against a day care center has occurred in Brazil. In May 2021, an assailant used a dagger to kill three children under the age of two and two adults in Santa Catarina state.
According to a paper from academics lead by Daniel Cara, an education professor at the University of Sao Paulo, 16 attacks or violent occurrences occurred in schools between 2000 and 2022, with four of them occurring in the second half of last year. The report was developed for President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s government by 12 researchers who included psychologists, social scientists, public school educators, journalists, and activists.
Flávio Dino, Brazil’s Justice Minister, informed reporters in Brasilia that he was directing 150 million reais ($30 million) from the country’s public security fund to improve school safety. According to him, the funds would be used to fund increased policing as well as the expansion of a team stationed in Brasilia that will monitor deep-web communities. Dino met with leaders from student organizations earlier in the day on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Camilo Santana announced the formation of a school violence prevention organization. Santana will lead the group, which will meet for the first time on Thursday.
There is no single explanation for the rise in such attacks, but a common denominator is what Cara refers to as a “crisis of perspective” over economic concerns, as well as the likelihood that each assailant experienced situations of frustration and aggression, including bullying and harassment.
“Given their lack of perspective and the way they were victimized,” they are recruited by online networks and seek a method to avenge society, Cara told the AP over the phone.
“They are typically young people who have a masculinist, misogynistic, racist discourse, worship neo-Nazi and fascist symbols, and live in communities where violence is glorified,” Cara continued.
According to experts, April is a particularly sensitive month for school shootings since it coincides with the anniversaries of the 1999 Columbine school massacre in the United States and a shooting in a school in the Rio de Janeiro metropolitan region in 2011. These incidents are revered in violent communities and can serve as catalysts for subsequent attacks, according to Cara.
“I have no words to comfort the relatives. “Anyone who has lost a relative knows that there are no words,” a tearful President Lula stated at the start of a ministerial meeting on Wednesday. He asked a minute of silence from his ministers.
In 2019, a bacterial infection killed Lula’s grandson, who was 7 years old at the time – the same age as one of the Blumenau fatalities.