Rio de Janeiro, April 15, 2020 — Brazilian authorities must swiftly and thoroughly investigate a shooting attack on radio journalist Vamberto Teixeira’s house and hold the perpetrators to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On the night of April 9, shortly after 9 p.m., an unidentified attacker fired at Teixeira’s home in the city of Sete Lagoas in Minas Gerais state in southeastern Brazil, according to Teixeira and a police incident report that CPJ reviewed. Teixeira told CPJ via phone that, after the shooting, he went outside to see what had happened and found five bullet holes in the gate.
“I was at home with my wife, my four-year-old son, and my mother. It was really scary. And we were lucky to be in the kitchen when it happened. We heard the shots. There were five shots and the bullets passed through the front gate and reached the internal garage yard,” he told CPJ.
Teixeira told CPJ he immediately called the police’s public emergency number and a military police unit came to his home later that night, registered the incident, and took the bullet cartridges. Teixeira also said neighbors who witnessed the event told him it was a drive-by shooting. The witnesses told him that the driver slowed down in front of Teixeira’s house while a person in the passenger seat shot several times, Teixeira said.
According to Teixeira, only a military police unit, which does not have investigative powers and only consists of a patrol unit and first responder, came to his house the night of the attack. He told CPJ that the civil police–the branch responsible for criminal investigations in Brazil–did not go to the scene and have not reached out to him, or anyone from his family, since then. He told CPJ he is not sure if they are investigating the case.
“Civil police in Minas Gerais should thoroughly investigate the alarming shooting attack at radio journalist Vamberto Teixeira’s house, bring those responsible to justice, and take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of journalists,” said CPJ Central and South America Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick in New York. “Harassment and intimidation of journalists only makes it harder for Brazilians to access information about issues of public interest.”
Teixeira hosts a daily news program on Radio Musirama, a commercial radio station that reaches 150 cities, where he has worked since 1995. He also owns the news website Folha de Sete Lagoas, which he founded in 2018 and which publishes a monthly print edition. Teixeira told CPJ that for both outlets he reports on general news, ranging from local politics to sports.
“I have spent 25 years working as a journalist. This is the first time this happens to me and, as far as I know, the first time in Sete Lagoas, which is a very quiet city. I have never suffered an attack and I have not been threatened before,” he told CPJ.
CPJ phoned two civil police units that respond to incidents in Sete Lagoas and emailed and phoned the police headquarters in Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais state, but did not receive any responses.
The military police incident report, which CPJ reviewed, confirms the date and time of the events, and states that the cartridges that were seized at the scene were delivered to the local civil police unit.
In response to CPJ’s request, the press office of the Sete Lagoas city government said in an email that the municipal government “condemns any attempt at intimidation through violence” and that officials “await the investigation hoping it is concluded as soon as possible and that those responsible are identified and punished.”