By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In Niterói, the sister city to Rio de Janeiro across the bay, a brazen gang of armed men attacked a hospital to free a reported criminal associate. Brazilian news outlet O Globo reported that at least fifteen men with rifles and pistols rescued the dealer Jhonny Luís da Silva, known as Bebezão (Big Baby).
Silva who was admitted to the State Hospital Lima Azevedo, Fonseca in the neighborhood of metropolitan Niterói. He is named by police as one of the kingpins in the Morro da Pedreira, Costa Barros.
The action, which lasted about 25 minutes, took place in the early hours of Monday. Before heading to the hospital, the bandits killed the policeman Milício Celso de Oliveira, 54, in São Gonçalo when stealing his car for the hospital attack.
The group entered the main gate and stole mobile phones of patients and the weapons of the two PMs of 41 BPM (Irajá), who were escorting the accused dealer Silva. According to the officials, the attackers locked doctors and nurses in the ICU to perform the rescue.
Niterói continues to struggle with crime and violence, and an ISP findings from September 2013 showed that homicides increased 116 percent over the same period in the previous year, with thirteen murders reported compared to six in 2012.
At the time residents and authorities pointed to needing more security forces in the area. Understaffed police stations have been a problem in Niterói for some time: in 1970 there were 3,200 active duty Military Police officers in the city; in April 2012 there were only 800, although the population increased by fifty percent in the same period.