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Police sniper alerted officials to armed man at World Cup opener; proved to be another officer

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SAO PAULO - A police sniper was spooked by an armed man seen approaching Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and other officials as they watched the June 12 opening game of the World Cup in Sao Paulo, law enforcement authorities said Friday. The man turned out to be a police officer.

In an emailed statement and phone calls, the Sao Paulo state security secretariat that oversees security forces said at no point did the sniper ask for permission to fire on the suspect. That contradicted what the secretariat said earlier about the incident.

More than 60,000 spectators packed Itaquerao Stadium for the opening game, including Rousseff, FIFA president Sepp Blatter and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Those three were all in a VIP area where the police sniper spotted an armed man in a police uniform and triggered an alarm.

Lucas Tavares, head press officer of the security secretariat, said at no point were the lives of any of the leaders in danger. He also said the sniper never set in motion a three-step protocol required to shoot his weapon.

"He did not seek permission to load his unloaded rifle. He did not ask permission to aim it at the suspect, and he never sought authorization to shoot," Tavares said.

Earlier, a spokesman for the secretariat said the sniper had asked permission to fire.

The newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, which first reported the story, said authorities initially feared the gunman spotted by the sniper was an intruder disguised as a police officer because no officers in his particular uniform were supposed to be near the VIP section.

After a few minutes, an officer looking at images on monitors inside the stadium's security room identified the uniformed man as a fellow police officer. The man quickly left the area and later was said to be investigating a suspected bomb threat, the Folha de S. Paulo said.

Adriano Moneta, a press officer at the state security secretariat, said he would not comment on the reported bomb threat or on why the officer was in the area where Rousseff and the others were sitting.

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