In Brazil, from bullied student to cold-blooded killer
| DATE: 2011-04-09 | PRINT | Share
The father (L), brothers (C and 2ndR) and mother (R) of Rafael da Silva comfort each other during his funeral at the Jardim da Saudade cemetery in Rio de Janeiro on April 08, 2011. Rafael da Silva was killed at a school in Rio de Janeiro, where a former student Wellington Menezes de Oliveira, 23, opened fire yesterday, killing 12 students and wounding 11 others before taking his own life in Brazil’s worst school massacre. PHOTO/ AFP
RIO DE JANEIRO, April 9, 2011 (AFP) – The Brazilian whose ghastly shooting spree left 12 school children dead was a loner who spent his days surfing the Web, and had been victim of schoolyard bullying and taunts, those who knew him said.
The country was struggling to come to grips with how 23-year-old Wellington Menezes de Oliveira, a former student of the school where he committed Thursday’s atrocity, could morph from a quiet, solitary person with no criminal record into a suicidal monster.
Menezes de Oliveira’s classmates and former teachers said he was routinely bullied at school, rejected and taunted by girls in class, and forced to endure “constant humiliation” including being thrown into a school garbage can, according to Brazilian media.
Fellow students gave him the nasty nickname “Swing,” because he walked with a limp, said former classmate Bruno Linhares, who lamented to O Globo newspaper that “the class fool turned into a criminal.”
“They called him all kinds of names,” said Linhares, 23, who studied with Menezes at Rio’s Tasso da Silveira school where the bloodbath took place.
“I honestly do not know why he did not do that (massacre) with our own group,” Linhares told local media.
Experts took to Brazil’s airwaves, seeking to explain just how he could have turned to evil, with some saying Menezes could have been reacting to the abuse at school.
“Often the victim of bullying tends to isolate themselves but can also become violent,” University of Rio psychologist Maria Luiza Bustamente said.
A former Menezes teacher, Celia Maria de Carvalho, who was in the building on the day of the shooting and escaped with her life, described Wellington as a quiet, shy boy who was constantly picked on by classmates.
“Unfortunately, this (massacre) is the bitter memory that will stay with me after so many years of the struggle for education,” the 51-year-old teacher told O Dia daily.
A bizarre letter found on Menezes’s dead body showed the killer’s clearly disturbed mindset and confirmed he had embarked on a premeditated suicide mission.
“They must know that the impure cannot touch me without gloves, only the chaste or those who lost their chastity after marriage and were not involved in adultery will be able to touch me without gloves,” it said.
“Nothing that is impure can touch my blood,” the letter continued, leaving instructions for his body to be undressed, cleaned and then wrapped in a white shroud he took with him to the school.
The note, which he signed, also expressed his desire to be buried next to his adopted mother, and asked “forgiveness from God for what I have done.”
Menezes de Oliveira’s family said their adopted son had left home eight months earlier, when his mother died and became even more withdrawn.
Adopted as a baby, he had five brothers and sisters who said he never had friends.
Recently he was looking disheveled, dressing in black and looking at weapons sites on the Web, his older sister Roselaine said.
“We found it odd. He had a long beard (and) said strange things. He spent his time on the Internet, had no friends, was very withdrawn,” Roselaine, who last saw her brother seven months ago, told TV Band News.
According to one neighbors, Menezes “walked with his head down without speaking to anyone.”
Menezes worked as a messenger, but was sacked last August.
“He was always alone but never aggressive,” said one employee, adding that “everyone (at the company where Menezes used to work) was horrified” by the attack.
Police who searched the home where he most recently lived said they found his computer partially burned, suggesting he wanted to leave no cybertraces.