Rio baby hit by stray bullet is 15th child shot this year: reports

The clothes of 10-year-old Vanessa de Matos who was shot dead in her home in Rio de Janeiro in July 2017 during a police operation in her neighborhood in the northern part of the city

A baby was wounded by a stray bullet in Rio de Janeiro while in his mother's arms, becoming the 15th child shot here this year, reports said Tuesday.

The non-governmental organization Fogo Cruzado, which monitors the city's daily shootings, said the boy was hit Monday in the courtyard of a school in the historic Cosme Velho neighborhood of posh southern Rio.

The infant's mother had come to the private Sao Vicente de Paulo school to pick up another child.

The school said it was "brutally put on Rio's map of violence when a stray bullet hit a baby while in his mother's arms, while she waited for her other child to finish a sports activity."

G1 news site said the baby was struck in the shoulder and that doctors would operate Tuesday to remove the bullet.

This was the 15th shooting of a child in the greater Rio area in 2018, said Fogo Cruzado, which translates as Cross Fire.

These include a three-year-old girl shot dead in her parents' car in February, an 11-year-old girl hit by a stray bullet while at school, and several children shot during confrontations between police and drug gangs.

Four of the 15 were killed, Fogo Cruzado said.

Parents and others in the neighborhood of Sao Vicente de Paulo expressed dismay, saying the shooting proved nowhere is safe in Rio, even if the vast majority of the violence is in the poor, gang-infested neighborhoods known as favelas.

"It's worrying because when you're in a school you think you're safe, but then things happen on the outside," said Jassira, 60, who has a grandchild at Sao Vicente de Paulo.

"Today you can be in the most expensive neighborhood of Rio and witness a shooting or stray bullets. It's hard to see light at the end of the tunnel," Carolina Martins, the mother of children at the school, said.

Public safety in the city has been steadily deteriorating since the end of the 2016 Rio Olympics, accompanied by failing budgets and corruption scandals.

Citing the police force's inability to control heavily armed drug gangs, the federal government in February ordered the military to take command of all security in Rio.

The move has seen generals replace civilian authorities in top security jobs, as well as an increase in use of soldiers to back up the police.

Analysts however say there is little evidence that the situation is any closer to resolution. Large areas of favelas remain under control of drug gangs who frequently battle police, exchanging volleys of automatic weapon fire in the narrow streets.

The clothes of 10-year-old Vanessa de Matos who was shot dead in her home in Rio de Janeiro in July 2017 during a police operation in her neighborhood in the northern part of the city