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story.lead_photo.caption A student cries Wednesday outside the Raul Brasil school in Suzano, Brazil, after a shooting that authorities said left 9 people dead, including the two gunmen.

SUZANO, Brazil -- Two masked men armed with guns, knives, axes and crossbows opened fire on a school in southern Brazil on Wednesday, killing five students and two adults before taking their own lives, authorities said.

The men, identified as former students at the school in a suburb of Sao Paulo, also shot and killed the owner of a used-car business nearby before launching the attack on the school, authorities said.

Besides the five students, the dead included a teacher and a school administrator, said Joao Camilo Pires de Campos, the state's public secretary. Nine others were wounded in the school attack and hospitalized, he said.

"This is the saddest day of my life," de Campos said, speaking to reporters outside the school in the Sao Paulo suburb of Suzano.

Authorities identified the attackers as 17-year-old Guilherme Taucci Monteiro and 25-year-old Henrique de Castro.

"The big question is: What was the motivation of these former students?" de Castro said.

Monteiro's mother, Tatiana Taucci, offered a possible answer, telling Band News while hiding her face from the camera that her son had been bullied at the school.

"Bullying, they call it. ... He stopped going to school ... because of this," she said.

She said she was surprised by his involvement and found out about the attack from the television like everyone else.

Minutes before the attack, Monteiro had posted 26 photos on his Facebook page, including several with guns and one that showed him giving the middle finger as he looked into the camera.

In some of the photos, he wore a black scarf with a white imprint of a skull and crossbones. No text accompanied the posts.

By Wednesday afternoon, Facebook had taken down Monteiro's page.

During the attack, Monteiro opened fire with a .38-caliber handgun and de Castro used a crossbow, de Campos said, adding that forensics would determine how the victims died.

The attackers were also carrying Molotov cocktails, knives and axes, authorities said.

"In 34 years as a policeman, it's the first time I see someone use a crossbow like that," police Col. Marcelo Salles said. "It is horrendous."

The attackers were trying to force their way inside a room at the back of the school where many students were hiding when police arrived. Instead of facing police, they turned their weapons on themselves, authorities said.

Kelly Milene Guerra Cardoso, 16, said she and other students took refuge in the school's cafeteria, locked the door and lay on the floor.

"We stayed there until the door was opened. We thought it was the shooters coming to get us, but it was the police," she said. "They told us to start running."

The Raul Brasil Professor public school has more than 1,600 students from elementary to high school grades, teachers gathered outside said.

Latin America's most populous nation has the largest number of annual homicides in the world, but school shootings are rare.

In 2011, 12 students were killed by a gunman who roamed the halls of a school in Rio de Janeiro, shooting at them.

President Jair Bolsonaro ran on a platform that included promises to crack down on criminals, in part by expanding public access to guns. Soon after his Jan. 1 inauguration, Bolsonaro issued a decree making it easier to buy a gun.

Similar to arguments made by proponents of reduced gun regulation in the United States, Bolsonaro and his supporters argue that expanded access to guns will combat crime.

Photo by AP/ANDRE PENNER
A former student is comforted by a friend Wednesday outside the Raul Brasil Professor public school in Suzano in southern Brazil, where two masked men with guns, knives, axes and crossbows killed five students and two adults before killing themselves, authorities said. The attackers, identified as former students ages 17 and 25, also killed a used-car business owner earlier in the day.

A Section on 03/14/2019

Print Headline: School rampage leaves 9 dead in Brazil

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