SAO PAULO, Oct 17 (Reuters) – A man was killed near a campaign event in Sao Paulo for a close ally of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Monday, authorities said, after the sound of gunfire interrupted the event.
The candidate running for governor of Sao Paulo, Tarcisio Freitas, said the incident appeared unrelated to his campaign. There were no initial signs of political motives.
Officials said the man was killed near the event in the city’s Paraisopolis neighborhood, but gave no further details on his identity.
Sao Paulo Public Security Secretary Joao Camilo Campos said preliminary information suggested there had not been an attack targeting Freitas, although investigators had not ruled out any possibilities.
The scare comes amid a tense election season in Brazil, with presidential campaigns stepping up security measures amid a rising tide of political violence.
Freitas, who previously served as Bolsonaro’s infrastructure minister, had a strong lead in the first round of Sao Paulo’s gubernatorial race over an ally of leftist presidential challenger Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Both races now go to a runoff vote on Oct. 30.
Shortly after the shots were heard, Freitas said on Twitter he was attacked by criminals in an attempt at intimidation, although he later said he believed the incident was not related to his campaign.
“First of all, we are all fine. During a visit to the 1st University Hub of Paraisopolis, we were attacked by criminals,” he said, adding that police had responded quickly.
“A criminal was shot. We are looking into details of the situation,” he wrote.
At a news conference later on Monday, he added: “It has nothing to do with an electoral issue; it is a territorial issue here in slums in communities in the state of Sao Paulo.”
Several loud bangs can be heard in a video shot by local media near the event. Reuters has not verified the video.
At a news conference in Brasilia, President Bolsonaro said that whether or not Freitas was the target of an attack, the incident showed he needed to have greater concern for his safety.
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