BLUMENAU, Brazil (AFP)— The families of four children killed at a Brazilian preschool held emotional funerals for them Thursday, a day after an attacker murdered them with a hatchet in a crime that has shocked the nation.
Brazil is still reeling from Wednesday’s attack, in which authorities say a 25-year-old man with a history of violent behaviour jumped a wall to get into the preschool in the southern city of Blumenau and went on a murderous rampage on the playground.
Devastated family members gathered to mourn the four victims, who were from four to seven years old, as residents left flowers and teddy bears outside the school.
At one funeral attended by AFP, pallbearers carried a small white casket to be buried at a local cemetery, as grieving loved ones sobbed.
A victim’s aunt described her shock.
“I never imagined I’d be coming to Blumenau for my niece’s funeral. I just saw her in January,” the woman, Salete Maia da Silva, told newspaper O Globo.
The girl’s grandmother, 71-year-old Helena Ibanez, said she was still struggling to believe what had happened.
“A grandmother should never have to bury her grandchild,” she said.
Four other children aged three to five were wounded in the attack. The hospital treating them said they had been released after undergoing surgery.
“They are back with their families,” the Santo Antonio hospital said in a statement.
“One patient has an injury to his jaw that will be treated on an outpatient basis.”
One mother, Fernanda Bubniak Schramm, described her flood of relief at learning her daughter had survived the attack unharmed.
“I have no words to describe it… It was a rebirth,” the 41-year-old engineer told AFP.
She called her daughter’s teacher Simone Aparecida Camargo a “hero” for hiding her and several other children in the bathroom during the attack.
Authorities said the attacker, who had at least four prior arrests, acted alone.
He rode a motorcycle to a police station and handed himself in after the assault.
President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva condemned the crime as “monstrous.”
His administration said it would provide 150 million reais (around $29 million) in federal funding to local governments to bolster security in schools.