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NBI, PNP differ on identity of gunman in Stephanie Nicole Ella case

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10:57 PM January 14th, 2013

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By: Christine O. Avendaño, January 14th, 2013 10:57 PM

Letters from her classmates and the medals she earned in school adorn the coffin of 7-year-old Stephanie Nicole Ella, a victim of indiscriminate shooting, during her wake in Caloocan City. The young girl was buried over the weekend in Bulacan province. RICHARD A. REYES

Who’s got the right man?

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Monday said that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and Philippine National Police (PNP) had each tagged a different suspect in the death of 7-year-old Stephanie Nicole Ella.

De Lima, however, stressed that she believed that the NBI had the right man based on the testimony given by one of its witnesses.

“We are sure that the distance of the suspect from the location of Nicole was really within the effective range of the … fatal shot that killed [her],” the justice secretary said.

Earlier, she told reporters that the gunman was the victim’s neighbor although authorities have yet to find the .45-cal. pistol he fired on New Year’s Eve.

The police had previously said that the stray bullet that hit Ella in the head as she stood outside her house to watch a fireworks display was fired about 50 meters away from where she was standing.

The young girl, a bemedalled Grade 1 student from Caloocan City, died on Jan. 2 in the hospital after suffering eight cardiac arrests.

Bounty a big boost

De Lima, meanwhile, said that the P2 million bounty offered by President Aquino was a big help in the search for the gunman, whom investigators, she noted, had already identified.

However, she begged off from identifying the suspect tagged by the NBI because there was an ongoing operation to locate him.

“The suspect had been identified based on an eyewitness [account],” De Lima told reporters.

The NBI wanted an “airtight” case against the suspect, which was why it has yet to file a case against the latter, she added.

“We need to connect him to the firearm and the firearm to the slug [taken from the victim],” De Lima explained.

According to her, this was why President Aquino thought of offering a reward “so as to speed up the surfacing of the suspect.”

The P2-million bounty will be given to the person who can provide authorities with “information leading to the arrest, prosecution and conviction of the suspect,” she added.

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