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Boy killed in ‘shootout’ between cop, drug suspect

But victim’s kin dispute policeman’s claim, insist there was no firefight

IN CUSTODY The suspect faces charges of homicide and serious physical injuries. -NCRPO PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — A 6-year-old boy died after he was hit by a stray bullet during an alleged shootout between a policeman and a drug suspect in Caloocan City on Sunday.

Gian Habal, a Grade 1 student, was playing in front of their house on Mabini Street in Camarin, around 2:20 p.m., when the bullet struck him in the forehead.

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He was brought to Caloocan City North Medical Center but was pronounced dead after 20 minutes. His mother, Jessa, said he had always wanted to be a policeman.

Grandmother wounded

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The victim’s grandmother, 65-year-old Elsa Montañez, was wounded after she was shot in the foot by the lawman when she tried to stop him from leaving the scene.

Cpl. Rocky delos Reyes, assigned to the Caloocan Central Police Station’s Administration Holding Unit, surrendered on Sunday evening. He would be charged with homicide and serious physical injuries.

Col. Ferdinand del Rosario, city assistant police chief, said that Delos Reyes admitted being in a firefight and shooting the boy’s grandmother in the foot. But he denied that he was the one who shot the boy.

Delos Reyes claimed that he was on his way home when he chanced upon a man known only as “Botchok” who was wanted for possession of illegal drugs. They traded shots but Botchok escaped.

Single gunshot

However, Montañez told the Inquirer that she heard only a single gunshot, which was confirmed by Jessa.

“There was no exchange of fire,” Montañez said. She added that when she rushed outside shortly after, she saw Jessa holding the victim.

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Montañez said that she also saw the policeman getting on a motorcycle and tried to stop him by grabbing him by his uniform’s collar. Her husband, Arsenio, also came to her aid.

“I saw him [Delos Reyes], in a hurry to leave, but I collared him so he wouldn’t escape. I asked him, ‘What did you do to my grandson?’ But he wouldn’t speak,” she said.

“I did not let go of him until he shot my left foot,” she added. Delos Reyes fled the scene after the incident.

Jessa said she wanted justice for her son. “I want to know why [Delos Reyes] shot him. He could have fired a warning shot.”

City police chief, Col. Restituto Arcangel, said the suspect’s .45-caliber handgun was surrendered for ballistic tests to determine if it had fired the bullet that killed the boy.

Reached for comment, Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, National Capital Region Police Office chief, said: “We commiserate with the family of the victims and will pursue the investigation while having the police concerned suffer the consequence of his action through the filing of both criminal and administrative cases.”

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TAGS: crossfire victim, Gian Habal, Rocky delos Reyes, stray bullet victim
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