Brazil: Hero Gym Teacher Stops Stabbing Spree by Putting 13-Year-Old Attacker in Chokehold

Thomazia Montoro State School
Thomazia Montoro State School

A 13-year-old student in Brazil stabbed four teachers and a student at the Thomazia Montoro State School in the Vila Sônia district of São Paulo on Monday, killing 71-year-old teacher Elisabeth Tenreiro.

The teenager, whose identity has not been publicly disclosed, is an eighth-grade student at the school. The assailant reportedly entered his classroom on Monday wearing a mask, stabbing the teacher from behind as she was taking attendance. The student was apprehended by Brazil’s Military Police and currently remains in the custody of local police authorities.

Tenreiro suffered cardiac arrest as a result of her wounds, dying at the University Hospital of São Paulo. 

Surveillance footage published by law enforcement shows the attack, though the moment in which the student stabs Tenreiro has been edited out.

The student victim of the attack – who suffered cuts on his arm, back, and eyebrow – received his injuries while trying to save the 71-year-old teacher.

“My son is fine. Unfortunately, the teacher is gone,” Ronaldo Borges, the father of the injured student, said. “He tried to defend. Unfortunately, he lost.”

“[The assailant] is a sick student, unfortunately. My son took a stab wound to the arm. From what we could see, the stabbing was to hit him. In the arm, in the back, in the eyebrow,” Borges continued. “They studied together in the same classroom.” 

Initially, a second student had been reportedly injured. Police authorities later clarified that the other student was found physically unharmed but in a state of shock. All other victims affected are presently not at risk according to Sao Paulo’s Secretary of Education Renato Feder.

The 13-year-old assailant was stopped by Cinthia Barbosa, another schoolteacher, who managed to immobilize the teenager with a choke hold while a second teacher disarmed the assailant and removed his mask.

Barbosa, who teaches physical education, told G1 on Tuesday that her current state was a “mess of feelings.”

“It’s quite difficult to talk still because I think that at that moment the emotions are quite aflutter,” Barbosa said. “So, I’m going to limit myself to everything that I’m feeling now, to express myself in there now with my colleagues. Although the moment is not for that, or maybe it is because it is a confusion of feelings, I want to pass on energy to my colleagues, to the family, to our whole school community, also to an entire system of education. So, I’m going to go there now. It’s just love.”

Brazilian Public Safety Secretary Guilherme Derrite pointed out on Monday that Barbosa’s heroic actions prevented a greater tragedy in the school. 

“It is worth highlighting the heroic act of Cinthia, a physical education teacher,” Derrite said. “She was the one who immobilized the aggressor, she was the one who made sure that the knife was taken away from him. If it wasn’t for her heroic action, the tragedy would certainly have been much greater.”

The government of São Paulo declared a three-day mourning period in honor of the deceased teacher and announced that the entire school community will receive psychological support. 

“Unfortunately, we had this disaster, and right after the attack we talked to the Health Department,” Secretary of Education Feder said. “We have a team of psychologists working in the school community for students, teachers, employees, and parents. This team will provide exclusive care to this community so that the shock can be softened.”

Feder also announced that the school will remain closed down for a week and the government of São Paulo will follow up to see if there is need to keep the school closed down for a longer period of time.

According to Tenreiro’s family, the deceased 71-year-old teacher had retired from her position as a technician in the Adolfo Lutz Institute but continued to dedicate herself to teaching science, having transferred to the Thomazia Montoro school at the start of this year. One of the teacher’s daughters told the Brazilian news website G1 on Monday that Tenreiro saw teaching as “a life purpose.”

“She was a person dedicated to teaching as a life purpose,” The teacher’s daughter told G1. “She felt that she had this mission, in a country with so much lack of education, that if she could change the trajectory of a student, then she already gained from it. She was very loved wherever she went.”

São Paulo Governor Tarcísio Gomes de Freitas expressed on Monday that the best way to honor the memory of the deceased teacher is by “working on actions to ensure that something like this never happens again.”

“We will work on solutions to expand psychological care and measures to prevent violence in the school environment throughout the state,” he continued.

Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.


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