The police have started subjecting to ballistic tests 37 .45 cal. pistols to determine if the bullet which hit 7-year-old Stephanie Nicole Ella came from one of them, a police official said Sunday.
The handguns were voluntarily surrendered by their registered owners to investigators of the Caloocan City police station, according to Chief Supt. Raul Petrasanta, chief of the Firearms and Explosives Office of the Philippine National Police.
“The investigation is now focused on those 37 .45 cal. pistols to check whether the slug (recovered from Ella’s body) will match one of [those taken from] the guns,” Petrasanta said in a phone interview.
He added that the licensed gun owners decided to turn in their guns to help in the police investigation of Ella’s tragic death.
With her younger brother and other relatives, Ella was watching the fireworks outside their house in Caloocan City on New Year’s Eve when a bullet hit her in the head, sending the little girl into a deep coma before she died on Jan. 2 after suffering eight cardiac arrests.
Petrasanta said the FEO provided local police investigators with a list of all registered firearms holders in Ella’s neighborhood.
He added that he had also revoked the three gun permits issued to Juan Agus, a former intelligence officer of the Presidential Security Group and Ella’s neighbor.
Aside from a .45 cal. pistol, the former soldier also owns .22 cal. and 9 mm handguns, according to Petrasanta.
Agus turned himself in to authorities on Thursday and admitted that some of his friends had fired his .45 cal. pistol on New Year’s Eve.
However, he was cleared after the ballistic exam done on his gun showed that its bullets did not match the one which killed the girl.
With the hunt for the owner of the gun still ongoing, a Caloocan councilor has pushed for the establishment of a formal reward system to encourage whistle-blowers to come forward and help solve cases.