A helicopter hovered over the cemetery and dropped rose petals over the thousands of mourners who had gathered at the burial of 13-year-old Laryssa Silva. The Brazilian daily O Globo called them Flores do céu, or flowers from heaven.
Silva was the first victim of yesterday's school shooting to be laid to rest. Eleven other children were killed at a school shooting yesterday in Western Rio De Janeiro. O Globo has put together a page with short biographies of the victims: Gessica Guedes Pereira, 15, spent the last night of her life sleeping in her mother's arms; Larissa Saints Athanasius, 13, was preparing for her 15th birthday, her debutante ball, more than a year in advance. And then there was Silva whose dad heard the news, rushed to the school and found his daughter lying in a pool of blood. He held her close and realized she wasn't breathing.
"My daughter, my angel of innonce is gone," O Globo reports he screamed out.
AFP reports that Pope Benedict XVI sent a message to the country with the world's largest Catholic population:
"The Holy Father wishes to express his solidarity and provide spiritual comfort to families who have lost their children and to the entire school community," according to a message sent by the Vatican to Archbishop Orani Joao Tempesta.
Benedict urged "all Cariocas... to say no to violence."
Three other children were buried today at Cemitério do Murundu at Realengo, reports O Globo:
Lorraine Karine Chagas de Oliveira and Paula Silveira Luiza Machado, both 14, were buried together. Rafael Pereira da Silva, 14, was the last to be buried, and at the front of the procession, the boy's friends carried banners of protest, asking the government for more security in schools.
According to the AFP, as the petals fell from the helicopter, mourners gasped and started weeping. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.