Tense hostage standoff on Rio bus ends after gunman surrenders

A gunman wounded two people at Rio de Janeiro’s main bus station on Tuesday and held 16 passengers hostage for three hours before being persuaded to surrender, police said.

There was panic after gunshots were heard in the afternoon at Novo Rio station, where about 38,000 people pass daily on buses to all regions of Brazil.

Witnesses said a man opened fire before boarding a bus, where he took 16 people hostage, including a child and six elderly people, police have not disclosed the reasons.

The earlier police list contained a total of 17 hostages.

Rio Health Secretary Daniel Soranz said a 34-year-old man was shot in the chest and stomach and was in serious condition in hospital.

A second person was also hospitalized with less serious injuries.

“The hostage taker surrendered, he was arrested, all the hostages have been released, they are safe,” Colonel Marco Andrade of the military police announced about three hours after the crisis began.

According to police, the surrender took place after agents of the elite Special Operations Battalion were deployed to the spot for negotiations.

Authorities cordoned off the station after evacuating all staff and passengers, who gathered in the hundreds outside while police tried to subdue the gunman.

Images broadcast by the Globo news channel showed agents escorting a man in a colorful pink T-shirt, green Bermuda shorts and short hair to a police van as passengers were exiting the bus after the incident, in which a A young woman was also included, who had a child in her lap.

The identity of the hostage-taker has not been revealed, but Rio Military Police Secretary Luiz Henrique Marinho said it appeared he was trying to “flee” the city because of “problems with his faction”, in an apparent reference to a criminal gang. Was doing.

“At some point he felt threatened by an individual or a group on the bus and that’s when he opened fire,” Marinho told Globo.

On the social network X, Rio state governor Claudio Castro praised the “exemplary” actions of police in ending the drama.

‘Everyone is desperate’

Televised images showed chaotic scenes at the station as frightened passengers scattered and a blue bus parked in the middle of an empty parking lot.

“A man took out a gun, started shooting and entered the bus. I have two friends on this bus, everyone is desperate, we don’t know what will happen,” an eyewitness told Globo before the passengers were released.
Bus hijackings are nothing new in Rio.

In 2019, a kidnapper armed with an imitation gun held bus passengers hostage for nearly four hours on a bridge outside the city before being shot dead by police snipers.

In 2011, a similar incident injured three people in the center of Brazil’s most prestigious city, long plagued by high crime rates linked to poverty and inequality.

And in 2000, a hostage and a captive were killed in another bus hijacking, which was broadcast live to an audience and inspired the 2008 film “Last Stop 174”.

Rio’s vast jungles, which fill the metropolitan area’s hills with often picture-postcard beaches and lush mountains, are hotbeds of gang and drug-related violence.

published by:

Vadapalli Nitin Kumar

Published on:

March 13, 2024