RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) _ Assailants shot a man to death and left a note on his body saying he had raped women and spread AIDS, police said.

The slaying Tuesday recalled the style employed by Brazil's once-notorious vigilante ''death squads.''

Nemesio Vidal Garcia, chief of Rio's 39th precinct, said the man, aged about 30 but not identified, was killed by fire from a shotgun and .45 caliber pistol in a slum district. The note said: ''I won't be spreading AIDS any more. I was one of three perverts raping women in this area.''

''We are investigating,'' Garcia said. ''AIDS could be the motive, but it also could be a maneuver to throw us off the track.'' He said a recent rape victim in the neighborhood said the dead man might have been her attacker, but another said she did not recognize him.

Brazil's ''death squads'' were vigilante gangs, often made up of off-duty policemen, that took it upon themselves to ''clean up crime'' in the 1960s and 1970s. Crime has been on the rise recently and the tactic has reappeared.

Officials at the city morgue said they would perform an autopsy to see if the dead man had AIDS, but only if the Heath Department provided adequate protection for the personnel involved.

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome is a fatal disease, for which there is no known cure, that destroys the body's immune system. AIDS is most commonly transmitted by sexual contact, shared hypodermic needles and blood transfusions.