Skyler Abatayo hit by stray bullet after doing school assignment

Rambo Talabong
Skyler Abatayo hit by stray bullet after doing school assignment
The four-year-old boy was killed by a stray bullet from an anti-drug operation in Barangay Ermita, Cebu City

MANILA, Philippines – Four-year-old Skyler Abatayo had just finished his school assignment when the bullet hit him.

He was amusing himself with photos on Facebook – he had an account of his own – and was given time to rest by his mother, Gwynn.

Nakaupo lang po siya sa harap ko. Nagbi-view kami ng mga pictures sa FB pagkatapos naming gumawa ng assignment,” Gwynn recounted to Rappler in a text message.

Nasa k’warto lang namin [kami]. Tapos may narinig akong malakas na putok. Akala ko sa kuryente lang pero paglingon ko sa anak ko duguan na siya.”

(He was just sitting in front of me. We were viewing pictures on FB after we did his homework. We were just in our room. Then I heard a loud bang. I thought it was from an electric wire, but when I turned to my son, he was already bloodied.)

Skyler was knocked unconscious. Gwynn started screaming for help, but her husband, Marc Anthony, was away fixing his motorbike. Alone, she carried her bleeding firstborn out of their home.

It was Tuesday, July 10. Cops were called into their neigborhood in Barangay Ermita in Cebu City after residents reportedly saw drug pushers having a pot and shabu repacking session.

What was supposed to be an inspection, however, turned into a shootout, and one of the bullets in the crossfire found its way to the chest of the young Abatayo.

Lumabas ako at umiiyak, karga-karga ang anak ko, tapos lumapit ang pulis sa akin, kinuha ang anak ko at siya na ang nagdala sa ospital kasama ang kapitbahay namin na nakamotor,” Gwynn Abatayo said.

(I came out crying, carrying my son, then the police came to me and took my son and brought him to the hospital. The cop was with our neighbor on board a motorcycle.)

She called her husband to go to the hospital before fainting from the overwhelming trauma. When she woke up, her son was already gone, pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.

Police said the bullet that killed the child came only from the suspects, who eventually escaped from the encounter. Ballistics examinations have yet to prove this, however.

In an interview with reporters in her office on Thursday, July 12, Cebu City Police chief Senior Superintendent Royina Garma said they are open to investigating the cops in the operation. She even added that they sent flowers to the Abatayos to share in the family’s grief. 

The family sent back the flowers. –

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.