Four toddlers and a teacher are reportedly dead in Janauba, Brazil after the school guard sprayed them with alcohol before setting them alight.
About 50 other people were hospitalized with injuries sustained from the incident.
The 50-year-old guard, Damiao Soares dos Santos, who was reported to be mentally ill since 2014, died in hospital several hours later after succumbing to his own burn injuries.
“This morning, four children and a teacher burned to death when a guard at the nursery school sprayed alcohol on the victims and his own body before setting them alight,” the prosecutor of Minas Gerais state, in the country’s southeast, said in a statement.
About 80 children were in the nursery school when the attack occurred, prompting worried parents to converge on the site which they found reduced to ashes.
“As the creche is near our house we heard the noise and rushed over,” Nelson de Jesus Silva, the father of one victim said.
Grief also struck Jane Kelly, the mother of little Juan Miguel Soares.
“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,” Kelly said.
According to The Telegraph, the dead children were aged four.
Police superintendent Renato Nunes said numerous bottles of alcohol were found at his home when officers visited the apartment to try to determine the motive behind his actions.
The guard had worked for at least eight years at the nursery school where he was not directly in contact with the children.
Brazil’s President Michel Temer expressed his condolences via Twitter.
“I am deeply saddened by this tragedy involving children in Janauba, and I want to express my solidarity with the families,” Temer wrote.
As the father of a school-age child, Temer said he understood “this must be an extremely painful loss” for the parents.
Janauba’s mayor decreed seven days of mourning to mourn the lost lives.