Police sharpshooter kills man who hijacked bus in Brazil
Police approach a bus hijacked by a masked man on Aug. 20, 2019, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. EPA-EFE/ANTONIO LACERDA
A man (C-L, wearing mask) shows one of his hostages to police after hijacking a bus on Aug. 20, 2019, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and threatening to set the vehicle on fire. EPA-EFE/ANTONIO LACERDA
A police sharpshooter pumps his fist after killing a man who hijacked a bus on Aug. 20, 2019, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and was threatening to set the vehicle on fire. EPA-EFE/ANTONIO LACERDA
A female hostage is treated by paramedics after being released by a man who hijacked a bus on Aug. 20, 2019, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and was later killed by a police sharpshooter. EPA-EFE/ANTONIO LACERDA
A female hostage faints after being released by a man who hijacked a bus on Aug. 20, 2019, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and was later killed by a police sharpshooter. EPA-EFE/ANTONIO LACERDA
Rio de Janeiro, Aug 20 (efe-epa).- A police sharpshooter killed the man who hijacked a bus and had taken the driver and several passengers hostage on Tuesday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, officials said.
The suspect, who was armed, died while being transported to a hospital, the Militarized Police said in a statement.
The masked man, who had threatened to set the bus on fire, released four women and two men before police killed him.
Initial reports after the incident said the man was carrying a toy gun, but he used a knife and a gallon of gasoline to threaten the passengers.
The unidentified man was shot when he went to the door of the bus, exchanged a few words with police hostage negotiators and then tried to go back inside the vehicle.
The police sharpshooter fired three shots, reporters on the scene said.
President Jair Bolsonaro defended the actions of police, reminding the public of an incident in 2000 in Rio de Janeiro in which a teacher was killed during a similar bus hijacking.
"The order from superiors was to do everything, except fire, and a sniper was not used. The result was the death of an innocent teacher and the bandit later died in a patrol car," Bolsonaro said on social media, referring to the death of a hostage at the hands of a gunman 19 years ago.
Tuesday's hijacking started around 5:30 am on the Rio-Niteroi Bridge, which links these two large cities in the Rio de Janeiro metropolitan area, causing a traffic jam that stretched 81 kilometers (50 miles).
Federal Highway Patrol spokeswoman Sheilla Sena told reporters that the freed hostages told officers that the man initially identified himself as a military police officer.
The suspect "endangered the passengers by threatening to set the bus on fire," Sena said, adding that the motive for the hijacking had not been determined.
The Militarized Police said the hijacking appeared to have been planned.
The bus had left Sao Gonçalo, the second-largest city in Rio de Janeiro state, and was heading for downtown Rio de Janeiro.
The masked man threw a firebomb out of the bus nearly two hours into the hijacking to show police that he could back up his threats.
Rio de Janeiro Gov. Wilson Witzel, a strong supporter of gun rights and police use of lethal force, flew to the bridge in a helicopter and flashed the victory sign. EFE