A gunman has shot dead four people as they prayed inside a Catholic cathedral in the Brazilian city of Campinas. Authorities reported that Euler Fernando Gandolfo, 49, gunned down four people yesterday as they knelt to pray in their pews. After being confronted by police, the man shot himself dead.
Gandolfo was seen entering the cathedral and sitting down next to elderly parishioners as they took part in midday mass. Then, suddenly, he jumped to his feet, took out a gun and aimed at those kneeling down to pray. Opening fire on the unsuspecting worshippers, he pulled the trigger relentlessly until being pursued by police. “I suddenly saw a man stand up, take position in front of a couple and shoot them point blank. I ran out fast and he continued firing, many shots,” said Pedro Rodrigues, who witnessed the atrocity.
“It was frightful,” added another witness, Alexandre Moraes. “He shot randomly at people. They were all praying.”
“I saw people getting shot,” said another parishioner in attendance, Danielle Coutinho. “I can’t get it out of my head. It was horrible.”
Campinas police chief Jose Henrique Ventura stated that, following the outbreak of gunfire, police in the Plaza outside rushed in and attempted to apprehend the suspect. As Gandolfo sprinted to the altar, he was struck in the side by police gunfire. According to Ventura, it was at this point that the gunman fell to ground and shot himself in the head.
“Thanks to the intervention of police, something much bigger was avoided,” Ventura noted, according to Sky News. He added that four other people were injured in the incident and are currently being treated in hospital.
“He first hit the people on the bench behind him,” said Major Adriano Augusto, according to the BBC. “Apparently he shot in several directions, not directed at anyone specifically.”
According to the Guardian, deceased shooter Euler Fernando Gandolfo was a systems analyst with no criminal record.
Brazil currently has the highest homicide rate in the world – more than 64,000 people were murdered last year.