Dozens of kimono-clad mourners have gathered to pay tribute to the world jiu-jitsu champion Leandro Lo after he was shot dead in São Paulo in a crime that has shocked Brazil.
The 33-year-old fighter, who won eight world championship titles and is considered one of the sport’s greatest ever practitioners, was pronounced dead on Sunday after being shot in the head at a nightclub in Brazil’s biggest city.
On Monday friends and admirers, including the celebrity chef Alex Atala, reportedly attended Lo’s wake at a cemetery in São Paulo’s south, before his burial.
“He was a reference in the sport,” the jiu-jitsu fighter Marcela Lima, who was among those to turn out dressed in her kimono, told the Folha de São Paulo newspaper.
The victim’s mother, Fátima Lo, paid tribute to her “hero” on social media, writing: “You made me feel like the most loved mum in the world … I will miss you forever.”
On Sunday night more than 40 members of the jiu-jitsu community surrounded a nearby police station to demand that the military police officer accused of killing Lo be brought to justice.
The officer, named as Henrique Otavio Oliveira Velozo, reportedly shot the jiu-jitsu champion once in the face after an altercation at a concert being given by Grupo Pixote, one of Brazil’s most famous samba pop groups.
The killing has sparked a major outcry and served, for some, as a reminder of the increasingly aggressive atmosphere that has gripped Brazil in recent years, as well a warning about the dangers of the soaring number of firearms being bought.
Since Brazil’s pro-gun far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, took office in 2019 Brazilian gun laws have been relaxed dramatically and gun ownership has exploded, with more than a million weapons reportedly going into circulation.
“Bolsonaro’s Brazil has become the wild west and nothing about this is a coincidence,” wrote the journalist Milly Lacombe.
The news presenter and commentator Flávio Fachel tweeted: “Guns… unpreparedness… violence… crime… death.”
Social media posts suggest Lo’s alleged killer, who was arrested after handing himself into police on Sunday night, was a die-hard gun aficionado.
“Firearms abolish the tyranny of the strongest and protect the integrity of the weakest,” he wrote on Instagram recently alongside a photograph of him posing with a revolver at a shooting range.
Source: The Guardian