Four doctors were shot — three of them fatally — beside a beach in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro in the early hours of Thursday in what may have been a politically motivated execution.
Security camera footage obtained by local newspaper O Globo showed a group of black-clad gunmen emerging from a car and running up to the victims’ beachside table in the Barra da Tijuca neighborhood and opening fire.
The men were in town from Sao Paulo for an international orthopedics conference and the dead men included the brother of federal lawmaker Sâmia Bomfim. The fourth doctor was wounded and brought to a hospital, according to a statement from Rio state’s civil police, adding that its homicide department is investigating who was responsible for the attack and its motive.
Brazilian Justice Minister Flávio Dino said he was tasking the Federal Police with joining the investigation in light of the hypothesis it may have been motivated by the actions of federal lawmakers. Bomfim is married to another lawmaker, Glauber Braga.
“After these immediate initial steps, we will legally analyze the case. My solidarity with congresswoman Sâmia, congressman Glauber and their families,” Dino wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
Bomfim and Braga belong to the same leftist party as former Rio city councillor, Marielle Franco, who was gunned down in 2018. Five years later, that case remains unsolved, and Dino said in July that it appears her killing is tied to militias and organized crime that control vast swaths of the city.
Barra da Tijuca is a sprawling beachside neighborhood known for its high-rise apartments, south of the better-known Leblon and Ipanema beaches. Ariel Dimarco, an Argentine doctor attending the same conference with his wife, said they were surprised and shocked to awaken and hear the news. They had eaten at the same spot three hours before the killing.
“We thought it was a calm area, and now with what happened we’re going to need to have more precaution, more care,” Dimarco, 51, said in a short interview beside the crime scene.
The outdoor eatery where the men were killed is across the street from their hotel. They had paid their bill and were preparing to leave before the gunmen arrived, O Globo reported the business owner as saying.
On X, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva expressed “great sadness and indignation at the news of the execution.”