CEBU, Philippines – A Cebu Port Authority lawyer and her son were ambushed along Hernan Cortes Street in Barangay Banilad, Mandaue City on Thursday night, September 1.
Here’s what we know so far about the incident.
Who are the targets?
Police have identified 43-year-old lawyer Karen Quiñanola-Gonzales and her 19-year-old son, Jeremy Gonzales, as survivors of the ambush.
Gonzales has worked with the Cebu Port Authority since 2005, is a manager at the business marketing department and a senior corporate lawyer, according to her LinkedIn profile.
She worked as a reporter at The Freeman from May 2000 to June 2001.
For some time between 2007 and 2010, she provided free legal assistance to victims of domestic violence and human rights violations at the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) and Lihok Pilipina Foundation.
The Cebu Port Authority condemned the attack on Gonzales and her son in a social media post published on Friday, September 2.
FLAG also called on Congress to enact legislation protecting human rights defenders, citing the ambush as the first recorded assault against a lawyer during President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s administration.
What did police find at the crime scene?
The ambush happened at around 9 pm on Hernan Cortes Street, Barangay Banilad.
A concerned citizen reported the incident at 9:20 pm to the Mandaue City Police Station 4 in Barangay Casuntingan, a few miles away from the ambush site.
Police found the injured mother and son inside a gray Honda City vehicle. They also found six fired cartridges at the crime scene.
“We received an official Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) report which showed that the empty shells we recovered from the scene were from a .45 caliber pistol,” Police Lieutenant Colonel Franco Rudolf Oriol, deputy city director for operations of the Mandaue City Police Office (MCPO), told Rappler on Monday, September 5
Oriol added that after a bullet trajectory examination, SOCO found a whole bullet and another fragmented bullet embedded on the vehicle’s door.
“That bullet was submitted for ballistic examination and we will wait for the result of that examination for cross matching, whether it was used on previous shooting incidents,” Oriol said.
As of this writing, a special investigation team composed of the heads of Mandaue City Police station 2 (Subangdaku) and 4 (Casuntingan), the MCPO’s intelligence and investigation unit, has been created for the case.
Person of interest identified
Oriol said police have already identified a person of interest (POI). Authorities use the term to describe an individual who is believed to be involved in a crime but has not yet been charged or arrested.
“We could not confirm yet his involvement in the shooting, but then, the pieces of evidence, the statements that we got from the family point to this theory,” Oriol told Rappler.
In earlier reports, police said they were looking into three possible angles. These include Gonzales’ work at the Cebu Port Authority, her past legal work, and her personal life.
So far, according to Oriol, there is still no definite motive behind the attack.
“For now, officially, we are considering this POI but I cannot give anymore details other than this,” he said.