SÃO PAULO, Brazil – A priest was injured, and two senior citizens were killed, in an attack on a house in the city of Peixoto de Azevedo, in Mato Grosso state in Brazil on Apr. 21.

Father José Roberto Domingos underwent surgery and other medical procedures and is now recovering at home. Still in shock, he’s happy and thankful to God for being alive, but is mourning the loss of a dear member of his community.

Domingos was invited by his 69-year-old friend Rui Bogo, a pious man and a very active member of his parish, to join him and his family and have lunch at the house of a friend. Some of the guests, including the priest, were playing cards after eating when the attackers appeared.

“I heard a first shot and immediately got up. I could see two men out of the house and a woman getting into it,” Domingos told Crux.

The priest went to hide behind a sofa, but as the woman was shooting in his direction, one of the bullets went through and hit him.

“A bullet hit my hand and went upwards, stopping in my wrist when it reached my watch,” he said.

One of the men shot at the windows several times, breaking them and hurting Domingos’s back.

“He was shouting that it was an act of revenge for his mother,” he said.

The woman was identified by the police as Inês Gemilaki, a 48-year-old cattle rancher. Her son, the 28-year-old doctor Bruno Gemilaki dal Poz, was the man who shot at the windows. Inês’s husband Marcio Gonçalves and her brother-in-law Eder Gonçalves were also involved in the crime.

According to the police, their target was the owner of the house. Inês had rented one of his properties a few years ago and allegedly left it with overdue payments and without repairing several damages that she had caused. The debts generated a lawsuit. A conflict between her and the former landlord had been growing over the past months.

Shooting injury on Father José Roberto Domingos. (Credit: Photo given by priest.)
Shooting injury on Father José Roberto Domingos. (Credit: Photo given by priest.)

A few hours before the attack, Inês and Bruno went to a police station and filed a report in which they claimed that they had been suffering threats from the former landlord and his family. They also claimed that their house had been invaded by three men on the previous day and that they allegedly told her husband that Inês was owing them money.

Around 3 PM, they went to the former landlord’s house and shot at the people gathered inside numerous times. Two guests were killed: 81-year-old Pilson Pereira da Silva and Rui Bogo. The former landlord managed to escape and had minor injuries.

“As soon as the shots ceased and they left the house, I got up and asked for Rui. I could still see him in his last moments, with a shot in the eye,” Domingos said.

The criminals left the city and hid on a farm owned by their family. CCTV footage provided by a convenience store at a gas station showed Inês and Bruno buying drinks, including beer, before taking to the road.

Marcio Gonçalves and his brother were arrested on Apr. 22. On the following day, Inês’s and Bruno’s attorney contacted the police and announced they were ready to surrender. They were detained shortly after.

The priest was taken to a hospital to remove the bullet from his wrist and shrapnel from his face. One of the fragments, according to the doctors, could have killed him if it reached his eye. He was also treated for several glass wounds in his back.

“I ended up being removed to Sinop [120 miles away from Peixoto de Azevedo] for surgery in my hand, because the bullet was near the tendons,” he said.

During his time in Sinop, Domingos received solidarity visits from a priest of the diocesan curia and from the bishop. He went back to Peixoto de Azevedo on Apr. 24 and is scheduled to give his testimony to the police at the end of the week.

“I have a bittersweet sensation now. On the one hand, I’m grateful for being alive. On the other hand, I’m sad for losing such a good friend,” Domingos said.

The priest has been living in Peixoto de Azevedo since 2021. The city is located near Pará state, in the Amazon region, and was founded only 37 years ago, during a gold rush in the region. Farming and cattle ranching are now central for the local economy.

“Rui Bogo was an extraordinary member of our parish. He was always there when we needed to help somebody. He contributed to several social works,” Domingos said.

Lately, Bogo was expanding a church that he built in his farm, which is dedicated to Saint Maria Goretti and is frequented by his relatives and friends, the priest added.

“I was out, but I heard there’s a great commotion in the city. I’ll visit Bogo’s family as soon as possible,” he said.

Domingos had never met the attackers before. He said he has been praying for them.

“I’m not angry at them. I’ve been asking God for their conversion. They’re disturbed souls full of sin. I also pray for the dissipation of any feeling of hatred and vengeance,” the priest said.

Domingos said that he has been asking God what He wants from him after such an incident.

“I see that kind of event as an opportunity to evolve as a human being, as a Christian, and as a priest. God is patient and merciful and always finds a way to give us a chance to grow in spirit,” he said.