LEBU – Police and firefighters continue to search for 3-year-old Tomás Bravo who went missing in the Biobío region on Feb. 17. The young boy went missing after his granduncle allegedly left him unattended for a few minutes as he was herding animals. Amid increased media coverage and pressure from the public, authorities have redoubled the efforts to find Tomás.
Three-year-old Tomás Bravo went missing in the Biobío region on Feb. 17 while in the care of a granduncle. The effort to find him since then has been tireless but thus far fruitless.
On Feb. 22, the Chilean Children’s Ombudsman filed a lawsuit against “whoever is found responsible as author, accomplices or accessories to the kidnapping of a minor,” as the search for Tomás continues in the Biobío region. Meanwhile, relatives of the child told the media that they suspect a kidnapping took place.
Si bien esperamos que pronto se encuentre en buenas condiciones a T.E.B.G. (3 años), desaparecido en Arauco, considerando los antecedentes, presentamos querella en contra de quienes resulten responsables como autores, cómplices o encubridores del delito de sustracción de menores
— Defensoría de la Niñez (@defensorianinez) February 22, 2021
La Tercera reported that the Air Force provided a Twin-Otter aircraft to take high-definition pictures of the area, which halted all ground search operations on Feb. 21. The air force also supplied satellite imagery. After this, 200 marines joined in with video and thermal imaging cameras, as the uneven terrain has made the search even more difficult.
Authorities have thanked members of the public for their concern but urged them to not get involved as this could hamper efforts in the search.
Attacks on the Family
Cooperativa reported that police have had to provide security to the minor’s family, as neighbors tried to lynch his mother Estefanía Gutiérrez over the incident. The child’s father – who does not live in the same household – arrived to demand an explanation from the granduncle, only to be welcomed by an angry mob that threw stones and insulted both parents.
After 17 hours since the initial report, the homicide brigade of Chile’s Investigations Police was ordered to look into the circumstances under which Tomás went missing.
The search for Tomás began at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 17, after the fire brigade was informed of the incident in the Caripilun area of Arauco. According to Cooperativa, the family’s account indicated that Tomás was used to herding animals with his granduncle, thus it is strange to them that he would have gone missing.
Francisco is finishing his degree in Journalism at Universidad Finis Terrae in Santiago.