To say that the South American nation of Brazil — and particularly the major city of Rio de Janeiro — is wracked with corruption and crime and gun violence on a near-daily basis would be a massive understatement, though things are marginally getting better in that regard.
Illustrative of that point was the Tuesday hijacking of a city bus full of innocent passengers on a major bridge in Rio that was only ended by a well-placed shot from a police sniper after an hours-long standoff.
Hijacking disrupts morning commute
Reuters reported that the hijacking commenced shortly before dawn when the suspect took command of the bus and the 37 individuals already on board as passengers on the miles-long bridge over the Guanabara Bay that connects Rio with the neighboring city of Niteroi.
The suspect was reportedly armed with a handgun and knife and told the hostages that he was a police officer, though that has yet to be confirmed.
At least six hostages were allowed to leave the bus unharmed during the standoff that lasted for four hours, and at least one of those hostages claimed the hijacker doused the interior of the bus in gasoline and threatened to set it, and presumably all inside of it, ablaze.
Sniper ends standoff
Thankfully, that never happened, as a Rio police officer with a sniper rifle who had assumed a perch atop a fire truck for more than an hour took a carefully aimed shot that brought the standoff to a sudden conclusion.
Video of the incident reportedly showed the suspect exiting the bus after the shot was fired and throwing a backpack toward the police prior to falling to the ground as he attempted to re-enter the bus.
The hijacker, who reportedly had a lighter in his hand as if intent on setting the gasoline-soaked bus on fire, was reported dead at the scene and the remainder of the passengers were freed without having suffered any harm.
Praise for police
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has taken a decidedly tough stance against the rampant crime in his country, was quick to issue praise for the manner in which the Rio police had handled the tense situation without any harm coming to innocent bystanders or hostages.
“Congratulations to the Rio de Janeiro police for the successful action that ended the bus hijacking on the Rio-Niteroi bridge this morning. The criminal was neutralized and no hostage was injured. Today, no family-member of an innocent person will be in tears,” Bolsonaro said in a statement posted to Twitter.
Those words of praise were echoed by Rio de Janeiro state Governor Wilson Witzel, who went straight to the scene after the standoff ended and reportedly hugged some of the officers involved in bringing it to a safe conclusion.
“We don’t want anyone to die, but…the police will act rigorously and will not be lenient with those who endanger other people’s lives,” Witzel told reporters. “Some people do not always understand that police work sometimes has to be this way. If they had not shot this criminal, many lives would not have been spared.”