Brazilian police kill 11 suspects to stop bank robbery
April 04, 2019 - 3:06 PM
SAO PAULO - Brazilian police say they killed 11 people who were part of a gang of at least 25 people that raided two banks and tried to blow up their automatic teller machines on the outskirts of the country's biggest city.
No police officers were killed or wounded in the incident, and three suspects were arrested.
A statement from Sao Paulo state police said the gang was about to set explosives to the ATM machines — one at a branch next door to a police station — when officers arrived.
Police said agents chased the criminals through Guararema, a city of about 28,000 people 50 miles (80 kilometres) north of Sao Paulo.
The statement said the agents seized seven assault weapons, four pistols, explosives and bulletproof vests. Police said the bandits used five armoured cars in their operation.
Banks Santander and Banco do Brasil did not inform whether any amounts had been stolen from their branches.
Images obtained by TV Globo showed the two bank branches with their windows smashed. A local resident said one attacker entered her house to kidnap her family and hold them hostage, but officers managed to stop him.
New Sao Paulo Gov. Joao Doria, who has pledged to crack down on crime with violence if needed, said the officers involved in the shooting are to be celebrated.
"Criminals who use shotguns, assault weapons and machine-guns are not out for a stroll. They were out to rob and create victims," Doria told GloboNews. "I congratulate the policemen who acted and put more criminals in the cemetery."
Doria supported pro-gun far-right President Jair Bolsonaro in October's election.
Bolsonaro celebrated the policemen later on Thursday for their "quick and efficient action" in Guararema. "Eleven criminals were killed and no innocents were wounded. Good job!" he wrote.
Crime is rife in Brazil, where more than 60,000 people died in violence last year. The country's police have long been accused of extra-judicial killings and violence.
News from © The Associated Press, 2019