At least two people are reported to have been killed and six injured after a 12-year-old boy entered a school in northern Mexico with two handguns and opened fire.
The shooting took place on Friday morning in the city of Torreón, in Coahuila state.
Local reports suggested the attack at the Colegio Cervantes had claimed at least two lives. One of the fatal victims was reportedly a female teacher, with some reports suggesting she had been the shooter’s target. The other was the shooter, who police said had killed himself.
A graphic photograph published by Mexican news outlets showed what appeared to be the body of a young boy splayed out in a pool of blood, with a handgun lying on the ground.
Police chief Maurilio Ochoa told reporters six people had been wounded – five schoolchildren and a teacher – with two in a “delicate” condition in hospital.
Ochoa said the shooter was believed to have entered his school with two weapons: a small-calibre handgun and a high-calibre weapon. The boy’s parents and grandmother, with whom he lived, had said they had no idea how he acquired the guns.
“This is really regrettable,” Ochoa said, as anxious parents gathered outside the school’s entrance. He suggested backpack searches might be needed to prevent future tragedies.
Torreón’s mayor, Jorge Zermeño, told reporters the causes of the attack were still unclear.
“They tell me he was a boy who had very good grades, who lives – lived – with his grandmother and who certainly suffered some kind of family problem.” He added: “It is very serious, so, so sad, and lamentable to see a primary school student do something like this.”
In an interview with the Mexican news channel Milenio TV, Zermeño called the shooting an “atypical situation” that did not speak to the “peaceful society” that was Torreón. “This is a city that likes to work and likes to live in peace,” he said.
Coahuila state governor Miguel Ángel Riquelme told reporters there were suspicions the shooter had been influenced by a video game called Natural Selection.
Before carrying out the shooting the boy – who has not been identified – reputely told classmates: “Today is the day”.
Despite suffering some of the world’s highest murder rates, school shootings of the kind that blight the US remain relatively rare in Latin America.
In March last year eight students were gunned down in the city of Suzano in Brazil’s São Paulo state.
In 2011 a similar attack at a school in Rio de Janeiro claimed 12 lives.
One of the worst such attacks to take place in Mexico came in 2017 when a 15-year-old student killed himself after shooting four people at a school in the state of Nuevo León.
Mexico’s leftist president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, is battling a major drug-fuelled security crisis which saw more than 31,000 people murdered last year alone.
This year looks like being no less bloody: 41 people were murdered in the city of Tijuana in the first eight days of 2020 and more than 100 have died in Guanajuato state, according to local media reports.