MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) – A gunman armed with a semi-automatic pistol killed at least 7 people, including 2 kids, and wounded 9 others in a rundown residential area in Kawit, Cavite on Friday morning, January 4.
The rampage ended when the gunman, identified as Ronald Bae alias “Bossing,” was shot dead in a gun battle with police, said district police chief Jaime Rollon.
Senior Superintendent Alexander Rafael, provincial police chief, said Bae just began firing with a .45 caliber pistol at his neighbors in Barangay Tabon 1 at around 9 am, reloading his weapon as he went from house to house seeking targets.
Bae shot at anyone, including a stray dog, police said.
An accomplice, a certain John Paul, was allegedly helping Bae reload the gun. The local government of Cavite is offering a P100,000 reward for the accomplice who fled after the incident.
Chief Supt James Melad, regional director of Calabarzon police, identified the fatalities as 7-year-old Michaella Andrea Caimol, Alberto Fernandez, 55, Gilbert Toledo, Al Orio, Irene Funelas, 38, a pregnant Rhea De Vera, 34, and John Monica De Vera, 3.
The 9 wounded victims were Ken Cedric Caimol, 3; Maricel Pajal, 27; Michele Caimol, 2; Emelinda Aquepel, 41; Ricky Dumip-ig, 17; Kevin Vallada, 5; Cheveri Ayson, 46; Antonio Drio, 15; and Baby Anolacion, 33.
“He was just shooting at anyone, bystanders, market vendors,” Rollon said.
Arnulfo Lopez, police investigator, said that Bae, a middle-aged man, had once contested and lost an election for the post of barangay captain. His motive was not yet known. (Initial reports identified the gunman as “Ronald Pae.”)
Residents told AFP Bae had been drinking heavily on Thursday night, January 3.
Bae was also a known drug dealer and had been taking methamphetamines since New Year’s Eve, said Cavite Gov Juanito Victor Remulla.
Kawit police chief Superintendent Dionisio Borromeo also told reporters that “paraphernalia” used for methamphetamines, known locally as shabu, had been found at Bae’s home.
Borromeo said Bae had originally been looking for an auto rickshaw driver who lived in a shanty home behind the gunman’s house, but was not there at the time.
“He was running swiftly and waving his gun…I told my children, and grandchildren to run,” Maita Lacorte, one of Bae’s neighbors and the aunt of the dead 7-year-old girl, told AFP.
Lopez said Bae shot dead the girl in her home.
Another neighbor, Fernandez, was also shot as he stood on his porch, according to the victim’s brother-in-law, Lito Ronquillo.
Ronquillo spoke to AFP in the narrow street where the initial shootings took place. A bullet hole could be seen in a window above the porch where Fernandez died.
Bae then walked towards a nearby market, shooting more people before returning home where police demanded he surrender, according to Lopez.
“He opened fire on the police. So a gunbattle ensued which resulted in the death of the suspect,” Lopez said.
Friday’s shooting comes amid a debate over the country’s lawless gun culture, which was sparked by the death of a 7-year-old girl who was shot in the head by celebratory gunfire on New Year’s Eve.
Stephanie Ella and her father were watching a fireworks display outside their home in Caloocan when a bullet, fired by a person welcoming the New Year, hit her.
The death triggered outrage and condemnation of poor law enforcement that allows hundreds of thousands of unregistered firearms to be on the streets.
There were 1.2 million registered firearms in the Philippines as of last year, according to data from the police firearms and explosives office.
There were another roughly 600,000 unlicensed firearms in circulation across the Philippines, according to the office’s records. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com