A homeless man was shot dead after overpowering a gun-wielding hostage-taker on the steps of a Brazilian cathedral, giving up his own life to save a woman he had never met.
The dramatic incident was all caught on video, showing a gun-toting man identified by the Mirror as Luiz Antonio da Silva dragging a woman across the steps of Sao Paulo Cathedral. As crowds of people gathered to watch the shocking scene, the hostage-taker pushed the woman to the ground and appeared to be ready to kill her, but then 61-year-old Francisco Erasmo Rodrigues de Lima ran to the woman’s rescue.
With a cigarette hanging from his mouth, the homeless man tackled the hostage-taker, pushing him off of the woman and allowing her to run to safety. But the assailant then turned his attention to the homeless man, firing a shot into the man’s midsection.
By then, police were in place and killed the gunman with a hail of gunfire, but the heroic homeless man was mortally wounded. As officers checked to make sure the gunman was dead, Francisco Erasmo Rodrigues de Lima slumped against the wall of the cathedral and collapsed.
Video of the homeless man saving the woman from the hostage-taker can be seen below, but be warned that it contains some disturbing images.
It is unclear why the attack occurred or what relationship the gunman had to the woman taken hostage. Witnesses said the two were inside the church praying together for about 20 minutes before he dragged her to the steps of the cathedral. The church’s staff was on high alert, calling police to say they believed the man had a gun.
Police said they believe the incident was a robbery gone wrong.
“An armed criminal targeted a victim and announced a hold-up. A passer-by saw what was happening and on intervening, was injured by shots fired by the criminal. The passer-by died at the scene.
“Meanwhile the victim, who was also injured, was helped by local police at the scene where she received medical attention. Military police who were close by were informed by witnesses and on reaching the place the witnesses indicated, there was a confrontation.
“The criminal was injured and died at the scene. Military police were unharmed.”
Locals said Francisco Erasmo Rodrigues de Lima was known for hanging around near the church, where he often begged for money.
A report from Globo.com said police are looking into the possibility that the man was shot by police. The report said that police had surrounded the scene and were negotiating with the hostage-taker, but the homeless man somehow broke through the barrier when it looked like he might kill the woman.
[Image via LiveLeak screenshot]