8-year old Anna Carolina de Souza Neves dies after being struck by stray bullet at home in Rio de Janeiro
By Marques Travae
Well, it seems that Rio de Janeiro will pick up where it left off last year…and the year before. And unfortunately, not for something good. To put it direct and to the point, Rio and Brazil as a whole are dangerous places to live if you happen to be black. Whether you’re a victim of random violence, an operation by a brutal Military Police squad or get caught in the crossfire between a small population of drug traffickers and these same police forces, your chances for ending up an innocent victim is much higher if you happen to have darker skin. And it doesn’t matter if you happen to be an adult, a teenager or even a child.
Last year we mourned the loss of 8-year old Ágatha Félix in Rio, the victim of a police action. Here we are in the first month of a new year as we have the death of another black child. Anna Carolina de Souza Neves, 8 years old, is the first child to be killed by a stray bullet in Rio de Janeiro in 2020. She died in the early morning hours of Friday, January 10, after being struck in the head while on the sofa at her home in the Parque Esperança neighborhood, in Belford Roxo, in the Baixada Fluminense region of Rio de Janeiro.
Residents approached the police as they passed through Avenida Joaquim da Costa Lima. At this point, the victim’s father appeared with the child on his arms and took her to the police car. The police agents took the child to Saracuruna Hospital, but she succumbed to her injuries.
The family told the Military Police that they heard gunfire shortly before the girl was shot and as it is very common that police and drug trafficker trade gun fire often leaving neighborhood residents as innocent victims, people most likely thought that this was a possibility. But in this case, police told them there had been no was police operation in the region.
Children call for an end to violence in Rio
Living in Complexo da Maré (north zone Rio), a region in which extreme violence is the norm, favela residents delivered over 1,500 letters to the state court in August of last year, with calling for actions to protect the population to be resumed.
The act which was vonceived by the institution Redes da Maré, demanded that the Court of Justice (TJRJ) re-evaluate the filing of a process that set up measures to protect the inhabitants of the communities.
Along with the letters written by children living in the favelas, there were many drawings which depicted helicopters flying over houses with police officers shooting at residents. The images are obviously influenced by incidents from last year showing Rio state Governor Wilson Witzel flying above the communities in helicopters with powerful rifles. Images show children running for their lives as the community was riddled with bullets.
“I wanted them to stop operations because many families will be killed. Now, I’m don’t have a room because you destroyed it during the operation. Everyone at my school cries, my brother died because of the police and they beat my cousin,” reads one of the letters.
Shot that killed Anna Carolina entered through rooftop
According to Civil Police, the shot that took Anna’s life entered the house through the roof. Police chief Cassiano Conte, who is conducting an investigation case into the case, the projectile that hit the girl is being analyzed in forensics.
“The projectile was removed from the girl’s body. It’s a short-caliber weapon. We are doing an expert analysis on it and going through our information database to see if there are other records with this same weapon, through an expert comparison,” said the delegate.
Forensic work began in the home where Anna Carolina was struck, with her parents and relatives closing following the investigation. Then, the Homicide Division of Baixada Fluminense Police Station team went up into a higher area, covered with vegetation, where the fatal come have come from.
The team was supported by the Military Police, which had previously occupied some points in local communities, including Parque Esperança and Caixa d’Água. Upon initial analysis, investigators think that the shot could been taken by drug traffickers against Military Police who were patrolling the highway on the Caixa d’Água hill.
According to Ana Beatriz Souza, Anna Carolina’s sister, the child was preparing to go to bed when she was struck with the fatal bullet.
“My sister was lying on the couch when we heard a noise. My mother started to scream, desperate, saying that it had hit my sister because a stray bullet came in. There was no shootout. It was a single bullet that went straight through and hit my sister’s head.”
Anna Carolina’s body is buried in Rio de Janeiro
Anna was buried on January 11, in Irajá Cemetery, in North Zone Rio. The victim’s family express their grief via social networks.
“I don’t want this pain that I’m feeling for anyone. My sister was lying inside the house, INSIDE the house and a single bullet took her life. I can’t believe it and I don’t know where to get the strength to hold my mother,” said the girl’s sister, Bibi.
“I don’t want this pain that I’m feeling for anyone. My sister was lying inside the house, INSIDE the house and a single bullet took her life. I can’t believe it and I don’t know where to draw the strength to hold my mother.” – — Bibi (@pontexbea) January 10, 2020
“The greatest love of my life!!!! Cheerful, intelligent, charismatic child. 8 years old, she had her whole life ahead (of her)…You came to bring incredible things to our lives, my baby. Be well, (your) sister will love you forever,” added Bibi.
Besides its beautiful beaches, Rio has also developed a worldwide reputation for violence. For several years, numerous reports of deadly everyday violence, often involving the police, have led me to believe that perhaps the city should be renamed “Hell de Janeiro”. And this violence doesn’t discriminate by age. Anna Carolina is the first child victim of a stray bullet in 2020, in Rio de Janeiro. In 2019, at least six children and teenagers were killed by stray bullets in city.
According to a study released by Fogo Cruzado, a data laboratory that compiles information on armed violence, 112 children and adolescents were shot in the metropolitan region of Rio de Janeiro last year. Of these, more than half, 60, died. In total, 58 children and adolescents were shot in situations in which state police agents were present. Since 2016, the platform has recorded the incidence of armed violence in the metropolitan region of Rio de Janeiro.
The same report reveals that, in 2019, 68 shootings or firearm shots were mapped inside homes in the Metropolitan Region of Rio, 79% more than in 2018, when there were 38 cases. In all, 95 people were shot in backyards, terraces and even indoors. Of these, 24 were victims of stray bullets. Of the total number of shots, 74 died, five of whom were victims of stray bullets.
Below are series of information pieces released by the platform:
In 2019, there were 2,335 shootings/firearm firings in the vicinity of schools in the greater Rio region – the equivalent of 32% of the shootings. In all, 916 people were shot around school units. Veja mais em https://t.co/NTHy2hRoAZ #TirosRJ #FogoCruzadoRJ #Levantamento2019 pic.twitter.com/9h3owVdgFI – Fogo Cruzado RJ (@fogocruzadoapp) January 10, 2020
In 2019, there were 81 cases in which 3 or more civilians were killed in the same situation in greater Rio. In all, 303 civilians were killed in these circumstances. Veja mais em: https://t.co/z6WOOv2SeX #TirosRJ #FogoCruzadoRJ #Levantamento2019 pic.twitter.com/E9eOG8x3Sa – – Fogo Cruzado RJ (@fogocruzadoapp) January 10, 2020
In 2019, 112 children and adolescents were shot in the greater Rio region, of which 60 died. In all, 58 children and adolescents were shot in situations in which agents of security were present. Veja mais em: https://t.co/S92GcOxMIV #TirosRJ #FogoCruzadoRJ #Levantamento2019 pic.twitter.com/O75b4L1ZIC – Fogo Cruzado RJ (@fogocruzadoapp) January 10, 2020
Information courtesy of MSN, R7, Agência Brasil