Friends, Kin Protest Mistaken Shooting

Relatives and friends of a Brazilian shot and killed in London after being mistaken for a terrorist say an apology by British Prime Minister Tony Blair (search) didn't go far enough.

Outraged over news that Jean Charles de Menezes (search) was shot seven times in the head and once in the shoulder, Gonzaga's mayor called the killing an "assassination."

"It's easy for Blair to apologize, but it doesn't mean very much," said Mayor Julio de Souza. "What happened to English justice and England, a place where police patrol unarmed?"

Some of Menezes' cousins made banners calling on Blair to arrest the police who fired the shots. The Brazilian flag hung at half staff in front of town hall, where several hundred people gathered Monday ahead of a planned protest.

They weren't impressed by Blair's apology.

"His apologies aren't easing our pain," said Arialva Pereira, one of Menezes' cousins. "He's not saying anything about punishing the police who did this, it's more like he's supporting them."

Menezes, 27, who had been working abroad in hopes of buying a cattle ranch in Brazil, was killed Friday in a London subway station as police investigated a wave of botched bombings the day before and the deadly transit bombings (search) of July 7.

Witnesses said Menezes was wearing a heavy, padded coat when plainclothes police chased him into a subway car, pinned him to the ground and shot him dead.

While Menezes' relatives said he was working legally in Britain and had no reason to fear police, the British Broadcasting Corp. said Menezes' visa had expired, suggesting a reason for why he ran.

Souza said the root cause of Menezes' death was Blair's decision to back the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. That prompted the wave of terrorist attacks, the mayor said.

"Gonzaga has nothing to do with terrorism and now it's been hit," Souza said of this farming town. "Jean could have come back here and become a father, but now we'll never have a chance to have him with us again."

Menezes, called "Jim" by English friends, was believed to have been on his way to repair an alarm when he was shot, according to a cousin in London, Alex Pereira.

Many Gonzaga residents go to the United States or Europe to make money for a nest egg to bring back. Most do so without proper papers, and most eventually return.

The killing probably won't stop Gonzaga natives from going abroad, said Regiani Castro, a 25-year-old who started a farm supplies store after working in Massachusetts for five years.

"They'll be scared, but they'll keep on going because that's the only way to guarantee your future here," he said.