The reporter, more commonly known as Paulo Rocaro, was driving home at around 11:30 p.m. in Ponta Porá, a city near Brazil's border with Paraguay, when two men on a motorcycle shot him at least five times, according to news reports.
Rocaro, 51, was the editor of the local daily Jornal Da Praça and the news website Mercosul News, as well as a correspondent for the national newspapers Jornal Correio do Estado and Jornal O Progresso de Dourados, according to news reports. He frequently wrote about local politics, news reports said.
Cándido Figueredo, a reporter for the Paraguayan daily ABC Color and Rocaro's friend, said the journalist had been highly critical of the local mayor, and supported the campaign of an opposition mayoral candidate. Rocaro was leaving the candidate's house when he was murdered, Figueredo reported. The crime could have been motivated by Rocaro's political activism, one local journalist told CPJ.
Figueredo, who worked on the Paraguayan side of the border in the town of Pedro Juan Caballero, has received numerous death threats in the past decade, according to CPJ research. Authorities also intercepted a phone call between criminals in Brazil who discussed killing him, CPJ research shows. The Ponta Porá police chief told reporters police were investigating a possible connection between the cases of both journalists, but said there was no evidence yet to support the theory.
Police officials told reporters they were investigating the crime as a contract killing, and were looking into Rocaro's journalism as a motive, among others, news reports said. The journalist's colleagues said that although he had reported on sensitive topics for years, writing a book about hitmen in the Paraguayan-Brazilian border area 10 years ago, he was well-liked and had not received threats, Mercosul News reported. The border is particularly dangerous for journalists, CPJ research shows.