Gun owners eyed in Nicole death down to 32

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Stray bullet victim Stephanie Nicole Ella (rigthmost) poses for a photo with other children on New Year’s Eve. Complimentary photo

MANILA, Philippines–Under extreme pressure to put behind bars those responsible for the death of a 7-year-old girl due to celebratory gunfire on New Year’s eve in Caloocan City, the police have again narrowed down the number of their potential suspects who are registered gun owners from 45 to 32, a police official said.

Superintendent Jackie Candelario, the local police’s spokesperson, told the Inquirer that the lower number represented the owners of .45 cal. pistols within a 50-meter radius from where Stephanie Nicole Ella was found.

Ella was watching a fireworks display outside her house on San Lorenzo St., Barangay 185, Malaria District, when she suddenly collapsed to the floor, apparently felled by a .45 cal. bullet that lodged in her head.

She died in East Avenue Medical Center in Quezon City Wednesday afternoon.

According to Candelario, police came out with the information that the bullet that hit the child had traveled a distance of some 50 meters, based on a reconstruction of the crime on Thursday night.

Candelario said the number also includes former Presidential Security Group intelligence officer Juan Agus, who admitted to firing his .45 cal. pistol that night, but who was later initially cleared by a ballistics examination.

Candelario said, however, that Agus and his drinking buddies–Arcadio Gulmatico, Eddie Magtubo and Feliciano Cercano—were not yet off the hook as a preliminary investigation had been set by the City Prosecutor’s Office on Jan. 11 to determine whether the charges of alarm and scandal filed against them could be upgraded to reckless imprudence resulting in homicide.

Chief Insp. Ronald Perilla, head of the local police’s North Extension Office, told the INQUIRER over the phone that he received a phone call from a representative of the City Prosecutor’s Office late Friday afternoon.

The person on the other line, he said, told him to file the charges against the four.

He said, however, that so far, his investigators did not find any evidence that could link the four men to Ella’s death.

“So what charges of reckless imprudence will we file against them?” he asked.

He added, however, that it was still up to the prosecutor’s office if the charges against the four would be upgraded.

Candelario said that of the thirty-two .45 cal. pistols, only Agus’ firearm was in the possession of authorities.

Another 9 mm pistol registered to Agus was turned over by his wife Carmen to police on Friday, but the .22 cal. gun he owned, based on Philippine National Police records, has yet to be turned over, Candelario said.

According to the police official, letters requesting that the rest of the individuals subject their firearms to a ballistics examination had already been sent to them.

At the same time, he said 11 slugs turned over by concerned citizens from Barangay 185 and nearby barangays as a result of Oplan Galugad, he said, will be subjected to a ballistics examination.

Oplan Galugad saw policemen conducting house-to house visitations on Jan. 2 for any information leading to individuals who fired guns during the holiday revelry, Candelario said.

While police are initially looking into the 32 registered .45 cal. gun owners, Calendario admitted that it was also possible that the person responsible for Ella’s death used a firearm that had not been registered with authorities.

Candelario, who is also the city’s assistant chief of police, refused to give an estimate as to the number of individuals who had “loose firearms” in the Malaria area.

“It’s difficult to give a figure. If you ask someone if he has a loose firearm, of course he won’t say that he does …, ” Candelario explained.

Asked if this would pose any difficulty in pinning down Ella’s killer, he said: “This is where the information provided by our concerned citizens comes in.”

As of press time, a total of P400,000 in reward money is being dangled to anyone who can help the police arrest the person responsible for Ella’s death.

Perilla said that P200,000 came from the Caloocan City government, and another P200,000 from the Valenzuela City government.

According to Perilla, the reward money could help witnesses come forward for a prompt resolution of the case.

In a related development, Candelario said he welcomed the National Bureau of Investigation’s conduct of a parallel investigation into Ella’s death.

Representatives from the NBI visited Ella’s barangay on Friday night and conducted an ocular inspection of the scene.

“That’s good because we can (help each other). That’s not a problem with us,” he said.

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  • Ommm

    Why spend all these resources to find and persecute the man who fired a gun in ignorance, not realizing that what goes up must come down? Hit on the top of the head, poor Nicole was the victim of random bad luck rather than intentional murder.

    It’s certainly a tragic twist of fate and better to leave it  that these 32 suspects will never know if it was their guns or not that ended her sweet life. After all , to quote a phrase, “bars do not a prison make”.

    Better to divert our energy into making certain this never happens again. We must live with our mistakes as these 32 suspects will for the rest of their lives and we should concede this was purely accidental but consider, at best,  that God had a plan for poor Nicole.

    • litobetita

      Easy for you to say because Nicole is not even related to you. Give her family and Nicole the justice that they need. It is not for us to say what kind but I am sure that they are crying for justice. May be she is a victim of bad luck, nevertheless all the people who did fire a gun particularly the one that killed Nicole must be punished for violating the law and for endangering the lives of the people. If you itched to fire a gun, go to the shooting range. That’s what responsible people do. Ignorance is not an excuse, especially when someone got killed.   

    • ed_nique

      if those who fired their guns were too dense to realize the consequence of their actions how do you know that they would even be bothered by their conscience?

      authorities should continue with their investigations. this way those people will realize that one day they will be indentified and be made to face the music.

      this is one way of making these people realize the folly of their deeds. that the law will catch up them, and they have to answer for the consequence of their actions. if no action is taken, like leaving it up to their conscience, i’m afraid these people, and others in the future, will not be deterred to repeat this.

  • captainramius

    We filipinos are almost identical with the lunatic weirdos and losers in the states who goes to school and just shoot students  … its about time we ban guns on civilians… though this will not solve the problem as our own police and military people are equally going locos whenever they get drunk.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/VUT4YW36QJREEGOBH5IYKNQMKI Kokak

    Punish all those who fired their guns indiscriminately last new year’s eve for nicole’s death. They are all guilty: they all know what they were doing; they know that the bullets they fired up would fall down with same velocity and could kill someone; they are all mayayabang; of course only one of them have the misfortune of owning the fatal bullet but the act of the real culprit is not different from the act of the others who, for the sake of kayabangan, risked innocent people’s lives.

    Wag nating parusahan ang mga ito at ang pangyayaring ito ay mauulit ng mauulit.
    .

  • boybakal

    Gun owners eyed in Nicole death down to 32….

    from 45 to 32….At least umuusad ang kaso,

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IGLQQ2TTZF3BAWUHUWLFWVPZDE Vladymir

      Puro kalibre nag baril ang mga number,susunod nya eh 22 na lang,tapos kung wala pa ring mahuli,magiging 12 na lang ,pero shotgun na 12 gauge,tapos wala na,tahimik na uli, ningas kugon lang ang lahat.Samantala patay na yong bata,tsk tsk tsk.

  • TEAM PNOY

    Owning a gun in the Philippines is expensive, and more expensive especially if one has several guns. The license fee is counted on a per gun basis. We are speaking of thousands of pesos. But being Filipino, ang daming kalokohan.

    Hence, I will tell you that it is common practice for a gunowner who has three or four guns to have only one license. Say 4 guns for the price of one license. This gunowner will buy 4 guns of the same make and caliber, for example all colt model 0.45cal. Only one serial number will be registered but there are four guns. The Filipino gunsmith will make a reto-ke and all four guns will  just have one serial number, with the same model, same caliber. Only the original gun with the original serial number will be licensed and with ballistic records with the FED. The three other guns will of course have different barrels and different ballistic signatures. Technically, the three other guns are loose forearms, but gunowners are able to save money and circumbent the law.

    That man will keep one gun in his house, one replica in his car, another replica in the office, and another replica in a provincial rest house.

    If that man is going to commit a crime, he is not going to use the gun with the original license whose ballistic record is with the FED. He is going to use the replica! If he is going to be apprehended by the police, he can readily show his license card and PTC using the license of the  original license gun, and yet his gun is the replica. If this replica gun is used in a murder or homicide, no way can it be traced to this man by way of ballistics, because the barrel ballistic signature of the replica is not registered with the FED, the FED has the original gun’s ballistic record. 

    Ask the president if you do not believe me. Gawain nila yan.

    • kalikasanipagtanggol

       kaya nga ang mungkahi ko halughugin ang bahay nung intel at ang vicinity na kung saan nanggaling ang bala na nakapatay sa bata….kahit pulis alam yan na may mga baril na replica dahil gawain din nila yan!

    • Mamang Pulis

      naks—binenta pa ang mga paltik.

      puede ba yan sa Glock o Smith &Wesson? o sa Sig Sauer?

      sa polymer–reretokihin ang SN?

  • $37644997

    How about a compensation for the family who are grieving for their daughter’s tragic death?

  • kalikasanipagtanggol

    “Under extreme pressure”

    Hindi ko gusto ang statement na ito dahil kung walang “extreme pressure” eh mabagal pa sa pagong ang kanilang pagkilos, ganun? hindi ba dapat SOP yan na kahit sino ang biktima mayaman man o mahirap ay parehas lang ng approach ang gamitin ng kapulisan? hindi yun kung sino lang ang magbigay ng pang gasolina at pang meryenda…….huwag sana usad pagong ang pag-examine sa mga baril tutal naman may record na kayo diyan i-compare niyo na lang sa nakuha ebidensiya!

  • Your_King

    Eye all you want. You’ll catch a few but not all. And even if you catch one, if that one is an Aquino ally then you can bet that nothing will happen.

    • Bulakenyo Ako

      here we go again…another president’s fault.

      • Your_King

        I know right…he has so much faults.

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