Brazilian soldiers held after father dies in hail of bullets aimed at family car
The military said soldiers patrolling the area mistook Evaldo dos Santos Rosa’s car for that of criminals.
Ten members of Brazil’s military have been arrested after soldiers fired 80 shots at a car carrying a family, killing a 46-year-man and prompting protests.
Evaldo dos Santos Rosa was driving to a baby shower with his seven-year-old son, his wife, her stepfather and another woman when soldiers started shooting at them, according to relatives.
The stepfather and a passer-by who was trying to help were injured but the rest of the family was unharmed in the incident in Rio de Janeiro.
The military initially said in a statement that it had responded to gunfire from attackers, but police said no arms were found in the car and the military eventually changed its statement.
“All evidence points to a homicide,” police investigator Leonardo Salgado told TV news Globo after inspecting the site.
On Monday, the military said soldiers patrolling the area mistook Mr dos Santos Rosa’s car for that of criminals.
“Due to inconsistencies between the facts initially reported and other information later received by the eastern military command, we determined the immediate removal of the military (members) involved,” the armed forces said in statement.
Ten of the 12 men questioned by investigators were arrested.
First they killed and then they went to see that it was a father, that there was a family inside, that there was a kid inside Victim's family
Luciana Dos Santos, the victim’s wife, went to the morgue on Monday to identify her husband’s body.
She told reporters her seven-year-old, who was in the car at the time of the shooting, thought his father was alive in hospital.
“My God, why did the (soldiers) do this?” she said.
“Murderers, that’s what they are,” said her sister Deborah. “It’s like the governor said: kill first and then see. And that’s what they did, first they killed and then they went to see that it was a father, that there was a family inside, that there was a kid inside.”
Family members, friends and local residents have scheduled a protest on the stretch of road where the incident happened.
“This can’t keep happening. We want justice,” Mr dos Santos Rosa’s 29-year old son Daniel told the Associated Press.
Brazil has the largest number of annual homicides in the world and new President Jair Bolsonaro has vowed to unleash security forces to battle rampant violence, but the armed forces have long been criticised for extra-judicial killings, especially in the state of Rio de Janeiro.
In 2018, the police killed 1,534 people in the state, according to government data.