A Brazilian gunman killed 12 children at a Rio de Janeiro school and then himself, police said ay, appalling the South American nation that has never seen such an incident before.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff wept when commenting on the occurrence during a speech to business leaders and requested a moment of silence for the victims.

"This type of crime is not characteristic of (our) country and therefore we are all united in repudiating this act of brutality," Rousseff said.

The assault by the 24-year-old Welington de Oliveira was the first serial killing of its kind in Brazil. Attacks similar to the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre and the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Colorado, were unheard of in the South American nation.

"We have to show unity and support for the families of the children (killed by) that psychopath, that animal," said Rio de Janeiro Governor Sergio Cabral in a press conference at the school in the Rio neighborhood of Realengo.

Police said Oliveira entered the school carrying two guns and a suicide note. Oliveira told officials he was there to convey a speech and then opened fire on students.

He was a former student at the school. Police said they supposed he was psychologically unstable, citing the content of the suicide note, which asked that "(someone) stand in front of my tomb and ask God to forgive me for what I did."

Oliveira did not have a police record.

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