TUGUEGARAO, Philippines – Four firemen have voluntarity submitted themselves for questioning in connection with the death of an infant from a stray bullet on New Year's Eve in Caoayan, Ilocos Sur.
Initial findings of the police forensic expert who analyzed the trajectory of the stray bullet that killed three-month-old Vhon Alexander Llagas indicated that the gunman could have been near the location of the four firemen.
Ilocos Sur police director Senior Supt. Jemar Modequillo clarified that the local fire station was not within the 100-meter radius from the house of the Llagas family, but the houses of the four Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) personnel are near the victim’s place.
Modequillo said the four firemen, whose identities were withheld pending the result of the investigation, have voluntarily submitted themselves for questioning and are cooperating in the probe.
He said the four firemen were not taken into custody but placed under close watch.
Senior Police Officer 1 Elmer Manuel, a bullet trajectory expert from the Police Regional Office 1 headquarters who started the investigation in the Llagas house last Wednesday, told journalists that the bullet fired from either a caliber .38 revolver or a 9 mm pistol most probably originated within 100 meters of the crime scene. He said the bullet came from the rear of the Llagas residence in Barangay Anonang in Caoayan.
Mendoza climbed the roof of the victim’s house to determine the trajectory of the stray bullet.
Modequillo created an investigating task force to probe the shooting of baby Llagas who was hit in the head by a stray bullet while sleeping inside their house beside his father Valeriano, a construction worker.
Modequillo said the four firemen have agreed to undergo paraffin test and submit their firearms for ballistic examination.
He told The STAR that investigators have ordered the inventory of all firemen, policemen, soldiers, security guards, and private gun owners living within 150 meters from the house of Llagas.
“We do not officially conclude that they (the firemen) are the suspected culprits but we put into consideration their location in the area as basis for us to invite them to shed light on the matter,” said Modequillo.
He said the firemen have turned over their firearms for verification and analysis, although he added investigators do not rely on the reliability of guns submitted for scrutiny.
“We cannot avoid thinking the four subjects were drinking during that time of the shooting since it was a holiday for merrymaking,”
Modequillo explained. “We cannot rely on circumstances, we need people who could prove and substantiate the facts surrounding the shooting, that is why we are beefing up our intelligence assets to gather more information,” he added.
The baby, who will be buried today, is the youngest of four children of the Llagas family.
The victim’s father said they wish to return to their normal lives after the burial.
Ilocos Sur Gov. Ryan Singson has offered P250,000 for any information that could lead to the arrest of the suspect.
Besides the death of Llagas, Ilocos Sur police authorities are also investigating the case of another stray bullet victim, 14-year-old Willy Palacpac, who was wounded in the right hand when he was hit by a bullet near their house last Dec. 30 in Bantay town.
Investigators in San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte have also started the profiling of firearms holders near the house of another stray bullet victim, Rhanz Angelo Corpuz, 2, who died last Thursday.
San Nicolas police chief Chief Inspector Dominic Guerrero said Corpuz, who died at around 3:30 p.m., had been in a coma at the intensive care unit of the Laoag City General Hospital after being hit by a stray bullet in their house at Barangay Lusong, San Nicolas hours before the revelry. – With Teddy Molina