Latin America & Caribbean

Brazil shooting: 10 soldiers held after family's car riddled with bullets

A view of a car which received over 80 shoots from members of the Brazilian Army, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 08 April 2019. Ten soldiers involved in the killing of a civilian were arrested after they shot the vehicle which was being driven with the members of a family inside. Image copyright EPA
Image caption The car Mr Rosa's family was travelling in was littered with bullet holes

Ten Brazilian soldiers have been arrested after their army patrol fired on a car carrying a family in the city of Rio.

Police accused the soldiers of firing more than 80 shots at the car, killing driver Evaldo dos Santos Rosa and injuring a passenger and a passer-by.

Mr Rosa was driving his family to a baby shower in northern Rio.

Investigators believe the patrol mistook the family's car for one of the same colour driven by gang members.

'Victims of the military'

Police who searched the family's car said no weapons had been found inside.

Detective Leonardo Salgado said that the "family ended up being victims of the military".

The officer said that he could not see "a legitimate defence for the number of shots".

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Luciana Nogueira lost her husband Evaldo in the shooting

The soldiers have been charged with "noncompliance with the rules of engagement" and will be tried by a military court.

Local media said that the soldiers were part of a routine patrol near a military installation but the incident nevertheless raises concerns over the deployment of troops to boost security in areas with high crime.

In January, 300 troops were sent to the north-eastern city of Fortaleza to tackle a surge in violent crime and last year, then-President Michel Temer temporarily deployed the army to Rio state.

Some analysts also think that members of the security forces have become more trigger happy by the tough approach advocated by the new far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

During the presidential campaign, Mr Bolsonaro said that police officers who shoot criminals dead should be decorated with medals. "If he [a police officer] kills 10, 15 or 20 with 10 or 30 bullets each, he needs to get a medal, and not be prosecuted," he said.

'They kept shooting'

The incident in which Mr Rosa was killed happened on Sunday in the northern Guadalupe neighbourhood of Rio.

A woman who was in the car with Mr Rosa, his wife, her stepfather and the couple's seven-year-old son said the soldiers fired at them without any previous warning.

"We got out of the car, I ran with the child and yet they kept shooting," she told Globo TV.

Dozens of shots can be heard ringing out in a video recorded by a resident from a nearby building showing the white car stationary and its doors open.

Mr Rosa, a 51-year-old musician and security guard, died shortly after being shot. His father-in-law and a man who tried to help the family were both injured. It is not clear how serious the injuries are.

The army's eastern military command at first said that its men had been responding to "an unjust aggression by attackers". The statement alleged that the military was shot at by "two criminals".

But in a subsequent statement it said that the case would be investigated by military prosecutors after "inconsistencies" had been detected between how the incident was initially reported and information that came to the military command later.

More on this story