At least two men in a car parked next to João Miranda do Carmo’s house in Santo Antônio do Descoberto, a small town roughly 30 miles west of the capital, Brasilia, the night of July 24 and shouted his name, according to local news reports. When do Carmo appeared, they shot him seven times in the chest and sped off in a red Fiat Palio, according to press reports. He died instantly. Do Carmo edited a pugnacious news website called SAD Sem Censura (Santo Antônio do Descoberto Uncensored, by the town’s acronym).
Do Carmo told police that he had been threatened at least twice before his murder. He spoke to police in May 2014, when his car was set on fire, and again in February this year, when he reported having received death threats, Gilson Ferreira, a police spokesman, told the Committee to Protect Journalists by telephone from the state capital, Goiânia. Ferreira said the journalist did not specify who was threatening him.
The president of the Goiás State Union of Professional Journalists also told CPJ that do Carmo had angered local authorities with his outspoken reporting.
“He was very controversial in his city. He demanded answers from politicians, police, and local officials,” Claudio Curado told CPJ by phone. “We believe the crime has a political component. He questioned local politicians.”
Ferreira, the police spokesman, said do Carmo had been accused of defamation and other offenses three times.
On his website, do Carmo had recently criticized the city’s unpaved roads, a local tax on garbage collection, and had featured complaints from local municipal employees that they were not being paid on time.
The National Federation of Journalists (Fenaj) said do Carmo was a member of the Communist Party of Brazil. Curado said the 54-year-old journalist planned to run in municipal elections later this year.
On July 27, police arrested Douglas Ferreira de Morais, 40, on suspicion that he had participated in the murder. Ferreira de Morais, the head of a group of security guards who work public sites in the city, was seen by witnesses driving the car used in the killing, according Fernando Gama, an investigator in the case, who spoke to the news website G1. Gama told G1 that de Morais can be jailed for up to 30 days pending investigation.
Gama told CPJ on August 10 that police were still pursuing the person responsible for planning the murder, and that a motive had not yet been established. He said that de Morais was connected to a drug trafficker who had threated do Carmo over articles that the journalist had written.