A 25-year-old man attacked a pre-school in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina on Wednesday, April 5, killing four children and injuring four others, according to local police and a hospital.
Police said the attacker had been apprehended but did not provide further details.
The 25-year-old man, identified locally as Luiz Henrique de Lima, arrived at the pre-school in Blumenau, southern Brazil, on a motorcycle before going on a horrific rampage, attacking children playing in a park behind the school.
Local media reported the victims as four-year-old children Bernardo Pabest da Cunha and Enzo Marchesin Barbosa, as well as Bernardo Cunha Machado, aged five, and Larissa Maia Toldo, aged seven.
A fifth child is said to be in a serious condition, while three other casualties were taken to Santo Antonio Hospital. The hospital confirmed that children, aged between ‘zero and two-years-old’, had arrived for treatment.
The tragic attack was carried out at the CEI Cantinho do Bom Pastor pre-school in the Velha neighbourhood of Blumenau at around 9am local time (12:00GMT).
As emergency services rushed to the scene, Henrique de Lima was arrested soon after turning himself in at a state police station.
Images broadcast on television showed weeping parents outside the private daycare centre, known as the Good Shepherd Center, while motorists were seen racing through red lights to get to the scene.
Governor Jorginho Mello confirmed the tragedy and expressed his condolences in a statement: ‘It is with great sadness that I receive the regrettable news that the private day care centre Cantinho do Bom Pastor, in Blumenau, has been invaded by an assassin who attacked children and staff.
‘Unfortunately, four died. I immediately determined the action of our security forces, who are already on the spot. The killer is already arrested.
‘I leave here my full solidarity. May God comfort the heart of all families in this moment of deep pain.’
Amid rumours on social media of other potential attacks, Blumenau’s mayor, Mario Hildebrandt, said the city suspended classes and will declare a 30-day mourning period.
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva also condemned the attack as a ‘monstrosity.’
‘There is no greater pain than a family that loses children or grandchildren, even more so when it is in an act of violence against innocent and defenseless children,’ he wrote on Twitter.
‘My thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families… For any human being who has the Christian feeling, a tragedy like this is unacceptable, a behavior, an absurd act of hate and cowardice like this.’
The State Board of Criminal Investigations has confirmed it will lead the investigation for the savage attack.