A 77-year-old is in police custody today after a gun rampage in Quinta do Conde that left three people dead, two of them policemen.
Early reports blame the massacre on a dispute over a dog – a Rottweiler that by all accounts “never stopped barking”.
But the story runs much deeper, and centres on years of feuding between neighbours.
Ironically, the 77-year-old who has been described as “losing his head” is the grandfather of a popular TV reality star, who claims her grandfather “is not a monster”.
Nonetheless, both PSP and GNR police forces are in mourning today, with messages of condolence pouring in from all quarters, including the prime minister’s office and the minister for interior administration.
The horror began yesterday afternoon when retired builder Rogério Coelho opened fire on his neighbour, PSP driver António José Pereira, 52 – an agent with years of experience who had driven “ambassadors and prime-ministers, including António Guterres in the past”, a friend has told the media.
Coelho began shooting from an open window in his home.
Pereira’s 23-year-old son Diogo was the next victim. He is understood to have tried to save his father but been shot as he did so.
National tabloid Correio da Manhã explains the young man died two hours later in hospital.
What happened next seems to have been that a 25-year-old GNR agent arrived on the scene with a colleague and ran to assist Diogo, who lay seriously injured alongside the body of his father.
Nuno Anes is thought to have “read the situation badly”, explains CM.
“Rogério Coelho’s rage was uncontrollable”, is how the paper put it.
As Anes moved in to help, Coelho is alleged to have let rip with another blast, tearing into the back of the young man’s head.
A neighbour described the carnage: “I heard five shots. I went running and saw a man lying on the ground, the son beside him and another man with a shotgun. The GNR agent was helping the young man. We tried to warn him to run, but he didn’t have time. He looked back and immediately got shot in the back of the head. He just lay there”.
Coelho is then understood to have turned the gun on himself, but the attempt at suicide was unsuccessful.
CM claims the gun jammed. Once arrested, Coelho was taken first to Setúbal hospital with wounds to his face, but later transferred to Lisbon’s Hospital de São José “due to the seriousness of his injuries”.
Another eyewitness told the paper the men had been arguing about Pereira’s dog before the shooting started.
“Rogério said he barked a lot. It was like a horror film. I heard shots, I even saw a man lying on the ground. The GNR told us to go home. Then I heard more shots and screams. It was horrible”.
Today, the association of prison guards is due to call on the government to pay police “danger money”, while the ASPP PSP association has said it is time the government debated concrete measures to “create more safety for police officers”.
With the whole issue of gun control on the global stage after the hideous point-blank shooting of two journalists on live TV in America, the incident has insured that the debate will play out here.
According to CM, Coelho had complaints for violence against him, with one even going to court.
Seven years ago, the former builder is understood to have attacked agent Pereira.
But the man’s granddaughter Liliana Antunes, a former contestant on the Casa dos Segredos reality show, has given conflicting versions of the neighbours’ “war”, as she termed it.
“This war has been going on for years, and the dog in the middle of it all is a dangerous Rottweiler that has not been domesticated.
“My grandfather did not do this because of a dog”, she stressed.
“For many years he had received threats from the neighbours. Not long ago, he was beaten up. They attacked him at the door of his home, and he had to be admitted to hospital”.
Coelho felt “defenceless”, she said, and for a long time now, the family had been aware he was not “right in the head”.
“He was never violent. If he did this, it is because he flipped completely. He could not take it that at the end of his life he was living this hell. I am not trying to say that he was justified… I think he thought “I am going to end this and then kill myself”. He was not well”, she insisted.
Meantime, on the issue of gun control, former PJ inspector and regular media commentator Carlos Anjos has said it is “difficult” to check shotgun owners, “as these types of weapons are used normally in hunting”.
As the devastated Pereira family now prepares for a double funeral, thought to be taking place tomorrow (Monday), it is not known when Coelho will be fit enough to be taken before a magistrate. A hospital source is quoted by Expresso as saying his injuries are not life threatening.