José Roberto Ornelas de Lemos, director and son of the owner of the Brazilian daily Hora H -- which covers the Baixada Fluminense region in the state of Rio de Janeiro -- was killed with 44 gunshots in the city of Nova Iguaçu on the night of Tuesday, June 11, reported the news site Uol. The parents of the businessman informed that Lemos had already suffered another attempt in 2005, according to newspaper Extra. With the crime, the number of Brazilian journalists killed in apparent retaliation to their profession this year could now reach up to five.
According to witness accounts, Lemos was with friends in a bakery he frequented when masked men opened fire from a vehicle before speeding off. Lemos died on route to the hospital.
According to O Globo, the victim's father, who often used an armored car, said the newspaper's coverage had brought him some problems and his son suffered from constant threats.
Police inspector Marcos Henrique de Oliveira Alves confirmed that the shooting of Lemos could be related to his job. "We do not discard any possibility, but we are going to investigate if José Roberto left anyone dissatisfied with what he did at the newspaper. The crime was planned," he told O Globo.
In 2003, Lemos was jailed along with another businessman after being accused of serving as a go-between in the contracting of two gunmen who later killed the subsecretary of the municipal government in the city of São João de Meriti, Kennedy Jamie de Souza. Lemos denied his involvement in that crime, appealed the sentence and eventually was set free.
Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.