The man responsible for the killing of Ricardo dos Santos has claimed he was acting in self-defence when he shot the Brazilian surfer three times on Monday morning.

Brazilian magazine Hardcore, which has been on top of this story from the start, reported that the shooter told police he was merely defending himself and his brother, and that his response was justified. 25 year-old military police officer Luis Paulo Mota Brentano was off-duty when he shot down dos Santos near Embaú Guard beach. He was accompanied at the time by his younger brother, aged 17. The brother has alleged they were threatened by two men, including Ricardo, with knives.

The claims of the two brothers contradict the testimonies of other witnesses, who maintain the attack was unprovoked, and that the brothers had been taking drugs. According to Mauro da Silva, the uncle of the dead surfer, Ricardo merely asked the pair to move on, because their car was in the way of the construction work Ricardo was helping with. When he walked away, he was shot in the back; he then turned around, and was shot twice more in the front. Da Silva, who described the situation as “surreal”, said the gunman was obviously high, and was having difficulties speaking.

Notícias do Día, a Brazilian news site, has reported that the gunman has previously faced two charges from the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Santa Catarina, for abuse of authority, bodily injury, threat and home invasion. In both cases he was acquitted due to a lack of evidence.
Ricardo’s passing is made all the more tragic by his own efforts in the past to curb violence in the Embaú Guard area. In 2011 he posted an impassioned plea on social media, imploring the local community to unite together and “put an end to this farce”:
“Today it seems that this piece of ‘heaven’ is losing its charm, it seems that people no longer value the fact that they are in a beautiful and pure place… It is with immense sadness that I write this, but the Guard is being DESTROYED.”
The message ends on a defiant note, which bears repeating now more than ever: “together we will fight for a better Guard.” Foreshadowing the circumstances of his own murder, his post also noted that “residents do nothing because they are afraid of being shot”, and made references to the uselessness of the police force. Given that Ricardo’s killer was himself a member of that very police force, many have seen the whole episode as a microcosm of Brazil’s present troubles.

Dos Santos passed away on Tuesday morning, following four operations and 40 litres’ worth of blood transfusions. Much of this blood was donated specifically for Ricardo; due to a national shortage of available blood in Brazil, surfers such as Adriano de Souza and Alejo Muniz posted the image on the left to their social media accounts.