Brazil Gunman Attacks Rio de Janeiro School, Kills 12 Children

Suspected shooter asked for forgiveness in suicide note, police say.

April 7, 2011— -- The gunman who allegedly opened fire in a Rio de Janeiro school this morning, killing 12 children before shooting himself, left behind a suicide note asking for forgiveness and revealing that he had HIV, officials said.

Ten girls and two boy were killed in the shooting, and another 12 children were injured, 10 of whom were girls. All the victims were 10 to 15 years old, and they were shot either in the head, chest or abdomen, the Brazilian government said, indicating that the shooter wanted to kill.

"We give our support and solidarity to the families of the young boys and girls [victims] of this psychopath, this animal," Sergio Cabral, the governor of Rio, told reporters.

Gunman a Former Student, Police Say

Police said the shooter, a man in his early 20's, was a former student at the school named Wellington Menezes de Oliviera who carefully planned the attack. Some students said that the shooters picked off his victims.

According to Brazil's Alerta News, de Oliviera lived just a few blocks from the school. People who knew the suspect described him as antisocial, a loner who didn't care for himself, Brazilian media reported.

While police are still trying to piece together exactly what happened, the gunman apparently entered the school claiming that he was there to give a speech or presentation to students. He was apparently clothed in black and was carrying two revolvers and ammunition.

No Guards on Duty at School

While no security guards were on duty at the school, police responded quickly, exchanging shots with the gunman, witnesses said. 400 students were in the building at the time of the shooting. According to the first officer who arrived at the scene, after the gunman was shot in the leg by police, he raised his gun to his head and killed himself.

Alleged Shooter Killed Himself After Encountering Police

"The policeman's presence avoided an even bigger tragedy because [the shooter] still had a lot of ammunition," said Djalma Beltrame, a Military Police lieutenant. "The criminal felt threatened by the presence of the policeman and killed himself."

As the violence unfolded, children could be seen fleeing from the school, running to a police station next door. Frantic parents of the school's 1,200 students began to show up to look for the children.

According to UNESCO, Brazil ranks second in the world for gun deaths.

ABC's Renata Araujo and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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