The family of Caio Benício have spoken of their pride at his intervention in last week’s knife attack outside a school on Dublin’s Parnell Square, although they were “heartbroken for being far away” in Brazil as he dealt with the aftermath.
The Brazilian Deliveroo rider was one of a number of people who assisted at the scene by tackling the assailant, using his bike helmet to strike him.
Two other children injured in the attack have been released from hospital, while the five-year-old girl attacked remains critically ill in CHI Temple Street. A childcare worker who was also stabbed as she tried to use her body to shield children from the attack is in a serious condition at the Mater hospital.
Mr Benício (43) moved to Ireland a year ago to support his family after his restaurant burned down in Brazil. He said he was working 10-hour daily shifts as he had to deal with “debts, health, school fees, rent costs” and split his time between Ireland and Brazil, where his family is based.
“I spend about four months here and then go home for about two. I had no choice. I had to support my family.
“It was tough losing my restaurant. I had my income and my lifestyle. And all of a sudden, everything was gone. I felt responsible for my employees’ families, who depended on that income. I was unfortunate,” he said.
He said a year later, in 2020, he lost his father to cancer. “I had to deal with all of this. I was depressed for a long time.”
Mr Benício is a father of two and was born in Niterói, a city near Rio de Janeiro. He said his restaurant had grown in popularity since it was founded in 2014 and was a good spot for good music, food, drinks and sports events.
He said his life is “consumed by work” in Ireland, but what is most difficult is dealing with the distance and missing his family.
“I have a seven-year-old boy who is growing fast. At this stage, it is crucial to be present.
“My daughter does what she loves and wants to be an actress. I worry more with my little boy as he is growing up, and it is important to have his father close by,” Mr Benício said.
Speaking to The Irish Times, Mr Benício’s family said they were in shock to hear about the attack and its aftermath.
“When he told me what had happened, I felt for him, for the children. It is really tough to process all of this,” his wife, Clara Benício, said.
“We are so far away and can’t do much from here. And he will have to deal with all of this alone ... without his family, without psychological support. It was a shock for everyone.
“It’s very sad. This is something you don’t even imagine could happen. And I also can’t stop thinking if he [the attacker] had fought back. My husband put his life at risk,” she said.
Laura Benício described her father as a “good daddy”. She said “even if he says he’s not a hero, that’s not an act that anyone would do. What he did was an act of courage. We are very proud of him.”
Mr Benício’s son, Breno, said his father was an example to him, “a real hero”.
“My hero doesn’t wear a cape, he wears a helmet,” he said.
Mr Benício met the family of a five-year-old girl who remains critically ill in CHI Temple Street last Saturday. He said he was “feeling uncomfortable being pointed as a hero” while “the little girl was still fighting for her life”.
“When I heard some rumours that she might have passed away, I decided to go to the hospital.
“I knew the family wanted privacy as we don’t see much in the news. I was trying to get information, but not much was coming up,” he said.
Mr Benício said when he arrived at Temple Street, the parents welcomed him well and thanked him for his act of courage. “I keep praying for her,” he said.
He commented on the repercussions of the knife attack in the media and said that he was “very grateful for the affection he has received from people” in the last few days.
A GoFundMe page to support Mr Benício has raised over more than €367,000 with more than 34,000 donors.
“I can’t describe how I feel. I am an immigrant. I came here to work and also to contribute to this country. But I am not from here. To see this attitude makes me feel at home like I belong.
“I had a pure instinct act. And people rewarded me for this. I feel I have a duty to return this gesture in some way.
“I receive affection wherever I go. It does not even need to be said. You can see through people’s eyes, you know? It’s very fulfilling,” he said.
Mr Benício does not know what the future will bring but said he “won’t lose his connection to Ireland”. “For everything that has happened, for everything people in this country did for me, I want to keep the doors open,” he said.
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