RIO DE JANEIRO – Rio de Janeiro’s Civil Police announced Saturday the arrest of two men accused of selling a revolver to the perpetrator of last Thursday’s massacre at a school, in which 12 children were killed and another 12 were wounded.
Charleston Souza de Lucena, 38, and Izaias de Souza, 48, were arrested before dawn Saturday, accused of selling a 32 caliber revolver to Wellington Menezes de Oliveira, the killer who committed suicide when surrounded by police.
Both admitted selling the gun to Oliveira and will be charged with the illegal sale of a firearm, a crime punishable by up to eight years in prison, police Capt. Felipe Ettore said in presenting the suspects to the press.
The accused said they were unaware of the killer’s intentions and would never have sold him the gun is they had known he was planning anything like what he did.
Souza de Lucena, a locksmith by trade, said that when he changed the lock at Oliveira’s house several months ago, the killer asked him if he knew anyone who sold arms, so he put him in contact with De Souza to find him a gun.
The court decreed preventive prison for the two suspects, since they both had criminal records for doing bodily harm and making threats.
The police said that the accused sold the gun for 260 reais (some $165) and cleared 60 reais (close to $38) on the deal.
There are still no clues about the origin of the other gun used by the killer, a 38 caliber revolver, since the serial number has been removed, according to police.
The massacre took place last Thursday morning at the Tasso da Silveira school, where Oliveira, 23, had once been a student.
Oliveira opened fire indiscriminately at the students of between 12 and 14 years old, who were in two classrooms at the school.
More than 400 students were in class when shots rang out between 8:15 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.
Neighborhood residents and anxious parents crowded around the school’s entrance, awaiting news from police.
The parents of some of the victims went into shock when they learned that their children were among the dead and wounded.
The killer committed suicide after being wounded in the leg by a policeman, who was nearby and heard the cries of wounded children running out of the school.
Oliveira, who was described by a former employer as “introverted and calm,” shot himself in the head as police closed in, the Rio de Janeiro Public Safety Secretariat said.
The gunman left a suicide note that “makes no sense,” police chief Col. Djalma Beltrame said.
Oliveira’s suicide note had references to Islam and said he was infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Investigators still have not discovered what led Oliveira to attack the school, but psychologists told Brazilian media outlets that all signs pointed to someone who was mentally ill.
Oliveira was wearing a belt with two guns, Rio de Janeiro state Gov. Sergio Cabral said, adding that the gunman was a “psychopath” and an “animal.”
Eleven of the dead were buried this Friday, while the 12th, a 13-year-old girl, was cremated Saturday at Caju Cemetery.
Still hospitalized are eight boys and two girls, three of them in serious condition, according to the latest medical bulletin released by the authorities.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff decreed last Thursday three days of official mourning in honor of the victims.
The massacre, the first incident of this type in Brazil, has rocked a country whose cities are plagued by high crime levels and where murders are common.