Arson Attack on Nursery in Brazil Leaves Six Toddlers Dead, Plus Many Injured

Yumi Kimura

Former Brazilian security guard, Damiao Soares dos Santos, 50, allegedly threw gasoline over several children at the nursery where he worked before burning them and himself to death.

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Santos, who was a night watchman at the daycare center for over eight years, is said to have been on holiday from work when he showed up saying he was there to deliver a medical certificate because he was not feeling well. The former security guard was seen carrying a pink backpack where he allegedly carried flammable liquid, possibly alcohol or gasoline, which he then used to set the victims and himself on fire.

Six children were confirmed dead, all aged four, as well as a teacher who was allegedly locked in a room and set on fire. A total of about fifty people were hospitalized due to injuries, 10 remained hospitalized in life-threatening conditions, said Bruno Ataide Santos, director of the hospital. 

“This is a very complicated situation. This was a decent employee who was on holiday from work… He has been an employee since 2008 and has never had a bad record so we could never have anticipated something of this nature happening,” Mayor of Janauba, Carlos Isaildon Mendes, told the media. 

Although the motive behind this atrocious attack still remains unclear, police superintendent, Renato Nunes, told Hoje em Dia newspaper that the guard had had mental health problems since 2014 and often sought the prosecutor's office to denounce his own mother. "He claimed that she would be trying to poison him, but it was all in his head," explained the delegate. Santos reportedly told his family this week— which happened to be the third year anniversary of the death of his father— that he was going to give a "gift" to them and that he would die. 

"I was thinking of changing nursery schools because we are preparing to move. I woke him up early to bring him here and when I saw him again he was dead in the hospital," said Jane Kelly of her dead son Juan Miguel Soares

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Brazilian President, Michel Temer, expressed his condolences to the victims via Twitter: