Two unidentified people on a motorcycle shot Jairo Souza 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.
Souza’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. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital, according to reports.
Souza, 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 Souza’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 Souza’s murder, turned himself in to police in Belém, the capital of Pará, 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 Abraji, Monteiro allegedly planned the murder with José Roberto Costa de Souza, 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. 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, “[Souza] 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 Souza’s work as a potential motive for his murder.
Souza’s colleague, Francy Rocha, told CPJ by phone in June 2018, following the killing, that Souza was previously threatened and attacked, and said the journalist was "always making denunciations, always putting himself at risk." Rocha added that Souza took precautions, including sometimes using a bulletproof vest and carrying pepper spray.
Rocha told CPJ that she was unaware if Souza received more threats in the weeks before the shooting. Souza’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 punch Souza 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 Souza had faced ongoing threats for his criticism of corruption, frequently changed cars as a precautionary measure and wore a bulletproof vest for the past 12 years. He was not wearing the vest on the day of his murder, according to the report.
In January 2019, public prosecutors charged 11 people with participating in the killing of Jairo José de Souza, according to a report from the National Council of Public Prosecution.
Authorities in March 2019 released city council member Monteiro from pre-trial detention, where he had been held since November 2018, after a court in Pará granted his habeas corpus request, according to news reports.
On September 17, 2020, Civil Police arrested Madson Aviz de Melo in Boa Vista, Roraima state, enforcing a preventive warrant issued in January of that year that named him as a suspect in Souza’s murder, according to ABRAJI and news reports.