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Carnaval chaos: One federal agent kills another in front of 4,000 partiers, including me

Rio de Janeiro authorities have been cracking the whip on quality-of-life issues during Carnaval – issuing fines for public urination, prohibiting many unlicensed food vendors from hawking snacks on the beach, and the like. But they might have been wise to focus on one other pesky crime category worth preventing: federal agents killing other federal agents in front of thousands of tourists.

Early Sunday morning in an electronic music party packed with 4,000 people at the Gloria Marina, Federal Police agent Leonardo Schmitt killed fellow agent Humberto Jose Filgueiras Barrense at point blank range in front of the main bar.

GlobalPost, I regret to say, was there: a friendly taxi driver had recommended the event to me and some friends and dropped us off about an hour before the shooting. Here is what I witnessed from about 30 feet away: Filgueiras Barrense appeared to die instantly; security guards accompanied a calm Schmitt out the door shortly afterwards; paramedics arrived a few minutes later. There was little commotion, and the party continued largely unabated except for at the immediate crime scene, which guards blocked off. It’s unclear whether Erick Morillo, the superstar DJ people had paid around $100 to see, was even aware what had happened.

So far, the Brazilian press has offered only spotty information on the shooting. Most reports say Filgueiras Barrense refused to give up his gun at the door, claiming that federal agents had the right to carry arms in public spaces. Carla Rodrigues Leite, his girlfriend, told reporters afterward that security guards had brought Schmitt over and pointed him out to her boyfriend; a federal police official said Schmitt was the brother of one of the party’s organizers.

Six years to go to the Olympics here in Rio, and it would appear the city has a ways to go on the security front.