On Sept. 4, Elenilza Mariana de Oliveira was praying inside a São Paulo Cathedral in Brazil when she was taken hostage by convicted felon Luiz Antonio da Silva. He had recently served 22 years in prison for theft, robbery, drug trafficking and assault.
Da Silva took de Oliveira outside and held her at gunpoint on the steps of the cathedral. But the crime was stopped when Erasmo Francisco Rodriguez da Lima, a 61-year-old homeless man, tackled da Silva, allowingg de Oliveira to escape and police to shoot da Silva, who later died.
During the struggle da Lima was shot twice by the gunman in the chest. He died on the steps of the cathedral.
*Warning: video below is graphic.
De Oliveira, who was injured during the attack, received medical attention at the scene, according authorities. When speaking to press, she said of da Lima’s bravery, “It was a heroic act…he gave his life for me.”
Following the attack, social media ignited in an outpouring of support and gratitude for the homeless hero.
Esse mendigo que morreu em SP merece todo respeito do mundo. Herói do ano!— Glau ? (@crvgglau) September 6, 2015
"This homeless man that died in São Paulo deserves all the respect. Hero of the year!"
Meu coração doi toda vez q lembro do mendigo q morreu salvando a vida da mulher??— Lari (@larissa_samora) September 7, 2015
"I feel pain in my heart every time I remember that homeless man that died saving the life of a woman."
RIP Francisco Rodrigues de Lima: a man who had nothing yet gave everything to save another life.— Cllr Dr Hitchin (@stephen_hitchin) September 8, 2015
Erasmo Francisco Rodrigues de Lima. May your heroic soul soar in heavenly peace. Thank you Sir.— rueban•s (@iamrueban) September 9, 2015
The appreciation and respect shown for da Lima stands in stark contrast to how the homeless are usually treated by society: with disdain, disgust and contempt. The heroic story serves as a necessary reminder that the homeless are not only humans too (as is too often forgotten or downright ignored by society), but that they are capable of compassion for their fellow citizens and deserving of that same compassion from humanity as well.