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NBI studying Atimonan crime scene

Investigators from the National Bureau of Investigation  on Thursday studied the scene of the supposed shootout on a stretch of Maharlika Highway in Barangay (village) Lumutan, Atimonan.

“Based on the bullet paths and rolled-up windows of the victims’ vehicles, there’s no way they were able to fire at all,” said Jasmine Abarrientos, a ballistician on the NBI team.

“The vehicles’ front portions were peppered with bullets, which entered the cars. [This] showed they were fired from the outside,” Abarrientos said.

She said that going by the positions of the bullet cases found on the scene, the shooters were standing on the road when they fired on the vehicles.

Virgilio Mendez, NBI deputy director for regional services, said the police and the military had turned over evidence to the NBI.

“The [military] had declared their cooperation, and their men who participated in the operation are ready to give their statements,” Mendez said.

According to a policeman who had knowledge of the investigation, three checkpoints were put up along Maharlika Highway on Sunday.

The policeman said the first checkpoint was at least 300 meters away in Plaridel town, manned by four uniformed officers from the Atimonan police.

“The two-vehicle convoy were not stopped at the first checkpoint, but were waved off and allowed to proceed to enter Atimonan.” the policeman said.

“A second checkpoint located at the boundary of Atimonan and Plaridel were personally manned by the ranking officials of the operation, including [Superintendent] Marantan, the leader,” he said.

“It is there, at the second checkpoint, that the shooting incident occurred,” he said.

He said the checkpoint near the Iglesia Ni Cristo church along the highway was not meant for the convoy, “but to  stop vehicles from proceeding to the area.”

“[P]edestrians were told to pass through the seashore, to avoid being caught in a possible fire fight,” the policeman said.

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