Teenage suspect in Brazil school shooting that killed 4 wore swastika, police say

A former student armed with a semi-automatic pistol and a revolver who killed four people and wounded twelve at two schools in Brazil had a swastika pinned to his vest and had been planning the attacks for two years, police said.

The shootings took place Friday at a public school with primary and secondary students and a private school, both on the same street in the small town of Aracruz in southeastern Brazil’s Espirito Santo state. Three teachers and a student were killed. Five of the injured remained in hospital.

About four hours later, the shooter, identified as a 16-year-old boy who used to study at the public school, was arrested by police, Espirito Santo Governor Renato Casagrande said. Authorities have not released the suspect’s name.

Teenage suspect in Brazil school shooting that killed 4 wore swastika, police say
A view of the Primo Bitti State School, one of two schools where shootings occurred on November 25, 2022 in Aracruz, Espirito Santo State, Brazil. At least four people were killed and twelve others injured. A teenage suspect has been arrested.

KADIJA FERNANDES/AFP/Getty Images


Authorities say the teenager used his family’s car to get from one school to another and that the license plate number was hidden behind a cloth.

Security camera footage showed him wearing a bulletproof vest, said Espirito Santo’s public safety secretary, Márcio Celante. The gunman gained access to the teacher’s lounge at the public school after breaking a lock.

Casagrande said the semi-automatic weapon belonged to military police, while the revolver was a personal weapon registered to the former student’s father, a military police officer.

The shooter is being held in an institution for juvenile offenders.

Police say the investigation is still preliminary and they cannot draw any conclusions about the motives for Friday’s shootings. But they said the 16-year-old attacker was wearing military clothes and a swastika.

The family said he was undergoing psychiatric treatment, which the school was not informed about.

“This shows how the culture of violence is a reality for some people, especially young people. This is a mental health issue facing society today,” Casagrande said.

Attacks on schools are uncommon in Brazil, but have become somewhat more common in recent years.

Not far from where Friday’s attacks took place, in the city of Vitoria, a former student entered his school in August with home-made explosives and knives. No students or teachers were injured.

A month later, in the northeastern state of Bahia, another teenager used his father’s gun to shoot and kill a student in a wheelchair.

Both attackers had met online in chat groups, police later concluded.

In 2019, two former students entered their school and killed eight people in the city of Suzano in Sao Paulo state. They later committed suicide. Friends told police they were both obsessed with the 1999 Columbine shooting in the United States.

President Jair Bolsonaro is an outspoken supporter of gun rights. Experts say that in the past four years, more than 40 decrees made it easier for Brazilians to buy and register guns. Sou da Paz Institute, a civil society organization, said in a September report that Brazilians buy more than 1,000 guns a day.

At the beginning of this year, a far-right influencer and supporter of Bolsonaro said in a podcast that a Nazi party should be founded in Brazil in order to have freedom of expression.

At the time, the president condemned the influencer’s comments, comparing Nazism to communism. But in 2021, Bolsonaro hosted in his office and posed for photos with German lawmaker Beatrix von Storch, a granddaughter of one of Hitler’s ministers.

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