Two unidentified people on a motorcycle shot Jairo Sousa twice in the back around 5 a.m. on June 21, 2018 as he arrived at Rádio Pérola, a privately owned broadcaster based in Bragança, northern Pará state, where he hosted the daily program "Show da Pérola," according to local news reports.
Sousa’s colleagues told CPJ that he managed to enter the building and climb to the first floor where, still bleeding, he was helped by security guards who called an ambulance.
Sousa, 43, reported on corruption, homicide, and drug trafficking at various radio stations, according to colleagues and news reports. He worked at Rádio Pérola for two years, most recently reporting on alleged corruption in the municipal government.
On November 16, 2018 four people were arrested in connection with Sousa’s murder in a police operation involving more than 50 officers, according to a police report. Earlier that week, police detained three other people, including alleged shooter Dione Sousa Almeida, the police report said.
On November 20, Cesar Monteiro, a city council member from Bragança suspected of ordering Sousa’s murder, turned himself in to police in Belem, according to the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji). During a radio show three days earlier, he denied any involvement in the case, Abraji reported.
According to investigations, Monteiro allegedly planned the murder with José Roberto Costa de Sousa, known as “Calar,” who allegedly leads a group suspected of committing crimes “on demand” in the interior of Pará and who was detained on November 12, Abraji reported. Calar was also listed in the police report as among those detained.
In the November 16 police report, Eduardo Rollo, an investigating officer with the Pará homicide division, said, “[Sousa] was used to denouncing people on his radio program and because of that these people were unhappy with what was being said on the show.” The report said police were considering Sousa’s work as a potential motive for his murder.
Sousa's colleague, Francy Rocha, told CPJ by phone in June 2018 that Sousa was previously threatened and attacked, and said the journalist was "always making denunciations, always putting himself at risk." Rocha added that Sousa took precautions, including sometimes using a bulletproof vest and carrying pepper spray.
Rocha told CPJ that she was unaware if Sousa received more threats in the weeks before the shooting. Sousa’s wife, however, confirmed to the police shortly after his death that he had received threats in the days leading up to his death, according to Globo.
In 2014, a man tried to hit Sousa while he was reporting in a restaurant in the neighboring town of Quatipuru, radio journalist Bené Costa reported on his blog.
A September 21, 2018 report by Abraji’s Tim Lopes Program, an initiative that investigates cases of violence against journalists in Brazil, found that Sousa had faced ongoing threats for his criticism of corruption, frequently changed cars as a precautionary measure and had to wear a bullet-proof vest for the past 12 years. He was not wearing the vest on the day of his murder, according to the report.