Tonelero Street attack

Article

August 12, 2022

The attack on Tonelero Street was a violent action, with a political bias, aimed at the murder of journalist and politician Carlos Lacerda, in the early hours of August 5, 1954, in front of his residence, at 180 Tonelero Street, in Copacabana. , Rio de Janeiro, which culminated in the death of major aviator Rubens Florentino Vaz and the wounding of municipal guard Sálvio Romeiro. days later.

Attack

Lacerda, one of the main opponents of the Vargas government, had started his campaign for federal deputy. As he had been threatened with death a few times, a group of sympathizers, Air Force officers, decided to serve as his security guard during his rallies. After one of them, held on the night of August 4, 1954, in the courtyard of Colégio São José, the journalist returned home accompanied by his fifteen-year-old son Sérgio, in the car of aviator Major Rubens Florentino Vaz. Upon reaching Tonelero Street, the three jumped out of the vehicle and, as they said goodbye, a person emerged from the shadows and fired several shots. The unarmed major tried to defend himself, but was hit in the chest. Meanwhile, Lacerda took his son to the building's garage and returned shooting at the attacker, who fled in a taxi. A municipal guard who was nearby, Sálvio Romeiro, heard the bangs and, upon checking what was happening, was also shot, but noted the license plate of the fugitive vehicle.

Investigation

That same morning, the press began to publish the details of the crime. The taxi driver, Nelson Raimundo de Souza, knowing then that his vehicle had been identified, decided to report to a police station. Initially, he claimed innocence and that he only took the passenger, not having knowledge of the crime, but confessed his involvement after deposition to the Military Police. To interrogators, Nelson Raimundo stated that he had taken two people to Rua Tonelero on the night of the attack on Lacerda. One of them didn't know who it was. But the other knew well. It was Climério Euribes de Almeida, a member of the president's personal guard and a friend of Gregório Fortunato. When the police went to the suspect's house, in the Méier neighborhood, he had already disappeared. A large force was mobilized for their capture. At dawn, the police released an official note to the press, with the content of the testimony of driver Nelson Raimundo and informing that they had determined to carry out several steps in the search for Climério. The operation involved around two hundred armed men, military vehicles and even helicopters, and took place in four states: Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Paraná and Rio Grande do Sul. Rua do Catete – next to the then presidential palace – and used to serve the members of Getúlio's personal guard. One of these members, Climério Euribes de Almeida, had arranged with the taxi driver to give him and a gunman, Alcino João do Nascimento, an escape in his vehicle. Alcino, actually a carpenter in financial difficulties, had been hired months earlier by José Antônio Soares to execute a disaffection. He had readily accepted the job, but had killed the wrong person. This did not stop José from appointing him to fulfill a similar task commissioned by Climério. It was agreed that the attack would be committed during a rally by Lacerda in the city of Barra Mansa. However, Nelson's car broke down, forcing the postponement to August 4, the date of the journalist's next rally. On the day, Climério and Alcino went to Colégio São José, but the taxi driver, who was supposed to meet them there for the escape, was late. Late at night, the three decided to head to Lacerda's house. After the exchange of fire, Lacerda was injured.