Story By: William McGee, Sub-Editor: Marija Stojkoska, Agency: Newsflash
A lorry driver has gone on the run after shooting three gay followers of the Umbanda religion after learning they had befriended his 13-year-old son.
The religion originated with the descendants of African slaves in Brazil and includes elements of Roman Catholicism and Christianity, and has around 400,000 practitioners in the country.
But when lorry driver Cleber Rasia Machado, whose age was not given, discovered that his teenage son was attending the temple, and among the congregation he was mixing with were three gay men, he had decided to kill them because he did not want his son to be friends with gay people.
Police had initially believed it was an attack that was motivated by dislike of the religion, until they later discovered that actually it was homophobic in origin.
The shooting took place in the Brazilian municipality of Rondonopolis on 14th March and Machado has now been charged with one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder over the shooting.
Victtor Caua Bianchini Silva, 17, was instantly killed in the attack and Leonardo Rodrigues da Silva, 21, was injured after he was hit by three bullets. He underwent surgery and survived.
The third target, who has not been named, emerged unscathed from the attack, which took place at the local Umbanda temple.
The suspect’s son was not at the temple which visited together with the three others he would usually visit at the time of the incident.
The suspect fled after committing the crime and at the time of reporting was still on the run. The authorities have ordered his preventive detention in absentia.
Some Umbanda practitioners report discrimination at the hands of Evangelical Pentecostal Christians.
The search for the suspect is ongoing.