One military policeman dead, several wounded after deadly ambush in Rio

The Brazilian military police truck after the shooting that claimed the life of Helio Vieira, whose rank was not disclosed.

Brazilian Military Policemen responsible for securing the Olympics were ambushed after making a wrong turn into a notorious slum run by drug lords, resulting in another blow to the sporting event’s already tarnished reputation.

According to The Daily Mail, Members of the National Force – a gendarmerie comprised of military police and law enforcement- found their pickup truck under fire after they mistakenly took a turn into a Rio de Janeiro favela occupied by ruthless drug gangs.

Military Policeman Helio Vieira was fatally shot in the head and approximately four others were wounded as bullets peppered the pickup, leaving a smeared trail of blood that ran out from the driver’s side door into the surrounding street.

The attack took place in the Vila do Joao favela, which is near the city’s international airport.

The soldiers -who are not familiar with the city but instead are assigned to Olympic detail- were likely lost when they attempted to turn their vehicle around and head towards the main expressway in Rio as they conducted security patrols. It is unclear whether or not they were informed by local police of the more dangerous locations in the city.

Vieira, whose rank was not disclosed, was rushed to the hospital but died of his injuries. Other soldiers in the vehicle, which were mostly from northern areas of the country, suffered gunshot wounds and other injuries but are recovering.

In a video that made its way to social media, Vieira was shown to be bleeding out, though still apparently able to move his arms and legs.

“Captain Allen was hit. The driver was hit. Another was also shot and was outside the vehicle,” one soldier said in an audio file shared to social media. “A taxi driver is helping us and is taking me to hospital. The driver entered the Vila do Joao and the guys started shooting and hit the vehicle. I think the driver was shot from the front, because he wasn’t able to get himself out of the truck.”

Military and police have secured the entrance of the favela, though they have not sent in armed patrols to rout out the offenders.

“I will not undertake any action for now. We have launched an intelligence operation and so far identified two people who took part in this attack,” Justice Minister Alexandre de Moraes said. Rio’s security secretary, federal police, the military, and PRF (Federal Highway Police) are all to take part in the investigation.

The Vila do Joao favela is infamous for being violent, with numerous lost tourists and citizens falling victim to gunfire in a country with notably strict gun laws.

The National Force (Forca Nacional) is an elite joint paramilitary force that contains military members who perform police duties. Thousands of FN troopers have been deployed to Rio in an effort to secure the Olympic games, as well as members of the Army and police.

The attack adds yet another smear to the already tarnished reputation of the 2016 Rio games, which has been rife with issues ranging from empty seats, the Zika virus, green pool water and crime, which has been an issue even before the games began.

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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