Who was Kathlen Romeu? Stray bullet kills influencer after she posted baby bump pic
A pregnant woman, Kathlen Romeu, died after being hit by a stray bullet during a police shootout just after showing off her baby bump in an Instagram post. As per the Associated Press, she was hit by a single shot in her torso during a shootout between cops and criminals. Officers brought her to a nearby hospital, but neither she nor her baby survived.
Friends and family of the young woman gathered to mourn on Wednesday, June 9. More than 100 people went to her wake and burial. Law enforcement authorities in Brazil have reportedly opened three separate investigations into the shootout.
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Who is Kathlen Romeu?
The Black woman, 24, from a working-class Brazilian neighborhood or favela had more than 43,000 followers on Instagram and was an interior decorator. “We just want justice, that’s all,” one friend said at her burial. Rodrigo Deniz, who described himself as Romeu’s best friend, said, “ part of me is being buried now.”
In her final posts before her untimely and shocking death, Romeu had spoken about her new pregnancy. “I’m discovering myself as a mom, and I get scared thinking about how it will be... I laugh, cry, and I’m afraid. A mixture of feelings,″ she wrote in a post in Portuguese, as translated by AP. “Little one, I feel ready to receive you, love you, care for you!!! God bless us!″
Romeu’s grandmother was with her when she was shot. While the grandmother survived unscathed, she told Brazilian media that her granddaughter had moved out of Lins de Vasconcelos a month before this tragedy — tragically, in order to avoid the violence there.
She said, “it all happened very suddenly. My granddaughter fell as a lot of shooting started. I tried to protect her because I knew she was pregnant. I saw a hole in her arm and shouted for help. I lost my granddaughter and great-grandson in a barbaric shootout.”
As per Cross-Fire, a nongovernmental data project started by Amnesty International before the 2016 Olympic Games that tracks armed violence, stray bullets have struck at least six pregnant women in Rio since 2017 — Romeu, however, was the first to die, as per data provided by the project. While the number of shootouts in Rio’s metropolitan area reportedly dropped by 38 percent from 2019, there were still more than 4,500 such events in 2020, with more than 100 people hit by stray bullets, as per Cross-Fire data.
In fact, AP reported that Romeu’s neighborhood, Lins de Vasconcelos, suffers frequent shootouts, even during school hours. Luis Pablo Figueiredo, a local community leader who works with kids, said, “She was our model in the neighborhood: She came from below, started fighting and she made it. We can’t take it anymore. We just want peace.”
As per Mario Braga, a senior analyst for risk consultancy Control Risks, “Most of these cases are focused in low-income areas, favelas, and the numbers show most of the victims of police are young Black males, and some part of society thinks this issue isn’t related to them directly and is in a parallel reality. But this has direct consequences for society as a whole.″
Thelma Assis, a winner of the Brazilian version of the reality show ‘Big Brother’, accused police of “genocide”. She said, “twenty-four years old and full of life. So many broken families, so many lives cut short. This genocide must end. There are no words that can console the family of Kathlen Romeu and so many other families."
Romeu’s partner Marcelo Ramos has laid the blame on the unprepared police of the country. “Last month, there was the massacre in Jacarezinho, now it’s Katy, and next month or tomorrow it’s another family losing someone close,″ Ramos said. “We have to speak out.″
As per a report in Intercept, a heavily armed police raid in the Jacarezinho favela of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on May 6 resulted in at least 28 deaths. Several people were wounded. It was reportedly the deadliest police raid and the second deadliest massacre in Rio’s history. As per the police, they were executing arrest and search warrants against alleged drug traffickers. But matters escalated and police officers, supported by armored personnel carriers and helicopters, used automatic weapons and explosives into the densely populated residential neighborhood.