RIO DE JANEIRO – Family members and friends of Maria Eduarda Alves, the 13-year-old girl who was killed this week by “stray bullets,” bid her their final farewell at a cemetery in Rio de Janeiro in a case that has deeply moved public opinion.
Maria Eduarda was laid to rest at Parque Jardim Cemetery in the Baixada Fluminense region after a vigil marked by anger and demands that the authorities determine the circumstances of her slaying.
Maria’s family expressed skepticism about the official explanation of her death.
“It was not a stray bullet, there were four bullet holes. What kind of stray bullet was that? For the love of God!” the victim’s sister Daniela said.
The teen was hit by four bullets last Thursday while doing gymnastics in the patio of her school in the Pavuna neighborhood on Rio de Janeiro’s north side.
The bullets reportedly came from a shootout between police and a criminal gang near Maria Eduarda’s school.
Soon afterwards, also near the school, two police officers shot and killed two disarmed suspects who were lying wounded on the ground.
The execution was caught on video by a nearby camera and created a scandal about police violence in Rio when it was aired on Globo television.
Police are looking into the origin of the bullets that ended Maria Eduarda’s life, and have taken into custody the two officers implicated in the double execution while investigating the case.
Ignacio Cano, a professor at Rio de Janeiro State University, said that Maria’s case is having an impact because it brings together a “scandalously innocent” victim with a summary execution.
“Regrettably, there are many executions of this kind, but when it is caught on film and comes to light, nobody can deny it,” he said, characterizing police violence as “systemic and generalized.”