NBI, PNP have different suspected gunmen in Nicole case
MANILA, Philippines — Who’s got the right man?
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said on Monday that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and Philippine National Police (PNP) had each tagged a different suspect in the death of seven-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 previously said that the stray bullet, which 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.
De Lima, meanwhile, said that the P2 million bounty offered by President Benigno Aquino III 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 of 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 the President thought of offering a reward “so as to speed up the surfacing of the suspect.”
The P2-million bounty would be given to the person who could provide authorities with “information leading to the arrest, prosecution and conviction of the suspect,” she added.
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