On the night of February 7, 2022, an unidentified attacker shot and killed Givanildo Oliveira, founder of news website Pirambu News, in the Pirambu neighborhood of Fortaleza, the capital of the northeastern Brazilian state of Ceará, according to multiple news reports and a statement from the Ceará Journalists Union.
Oliveira had been threatened and warned not to publish information about local criminals, according to a statement from the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism, and his death followed the publication of a report about the detention of a local man suspected of double homicide, according to the privately owned news website Diário do Nordeste.
Security camera footage, published by multiple news outlets, shows Oliveira walking in the street when a man runs toward him, throws him to the ground, shoots him approximately four times in the head and upper body, and then flees the scene.
Pirambu News covers that neighborhood and its surrounding areas, including reporting on crime and policing, on its website and social media channels.
“Community journalism is relevant and fosters social dialogue,” Rafael Mesquita, president of the Ceará Journalists Union, told CPJ by phone. “It will be a great loss if community journalists start to silence themselves because of violence against them.”
On February 11, the Ceará Civil Police arrested a suspect identified as Thiago de Sousa Barros, saying a witness identified him as an alleged hitman for a criminal organization known as the “Red Command” and the possible perpetrator of Oliveira’s killing, according to the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji) and news reports.
On March 28 , after the state civil police concluded its investigation, the Ceará public prosecutor’s office charged Barros and other three men with Oliveira’s murder, according to news reports and Abraji, which said Barros was in pretrial detention and the three other suspects had absconded.
According to those reports, two of the men charged with murder allegedly ordered Oliveira’s killing in retaliation for that reporting on the detention of a Red Command member suspected of double homicide.
CPJ emailed the Ceará state Civil Police for comment, but received no response. CPJ was unable to find contact information for Barros.
The day after Oliveira’s killing, online news outlet Portal de Fortaleza, which covers local news in the Fortaleza neighborhood of Vila Manoel Sátiro, announced on Instagram that it would no longer cover crime and policing issues.
Paulo Sérgio Damasceno, that outlet’s founder, told CPJ in a phone interview that he and the outlet’s team were extremely concerned about Oliveira’s killing and, although they had not received any threats, they “decided to no longer cover policing issues in order to avoid becoming a target.”