Talisay tragedy: Three deaths, a burning house, an hour-long shootout
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Who would have thought that a silent village of Lawaan III in Talisay City could witness three gruesome deaths in three hours?
Barangay councilor Socretes Echavez could not believe that his childhood friend, Barangay Captain Jimmy Bartilic, whom he spent more than 30 years of his life with would die in the hands of a former US Marine.
Echavez was with Bartilic, also slain Jed Ybañez, former police officer Bobby Omaña, and a barangay tanod, when they went to the house of former US Marine, Dean Torrefranca, to settle a property dispute.
The barangay councilor witnessed how Torrefranca lifted a high powered gun and chased all five of them away from his house.
“Pagkita namo sa iyang taas kaayo nga armas, ningdagan mi oi. Lahi-lahi mig gidaganan apan iya gyod gipusil atong kapitan ug si Jed. (When we saw the long firearm, we all ran in different directions, but he shot our captain and Jedd),” said Echavez.
Echaves said that they felt fear during the incident when they heard multiple gunshots and watched two people die.
Yet, hours before the shootout, Echavez thought it was going to be a peaceful settlement between the camp of Ybañez and Torrefranca.
Omaña, the uncle of Ybañez and brother-in-law of Torrefranca, thought so too.
Omaña, a former police officer, accompanied his nephew to claim the properties of his sister, former Lawaan III village chief Delia Ybañez-Torrefranca, who married Dean Torrefranca after her first husband’s death. Delia passed away 40 days ago.
Omaña said that Delia’s house and two cars were bought during her first marriage with Jed’s father, and so Jedd and her sister would like to claim the properties.
Around 9 a.m. of Thursday, May 16, the settlement began at the Barangay Lawaan III hall presided by Barangay Chief Bartilic.
Omaña said Jed simply wanted to see the documents left by her dead mother in a vault within the house where he grew up but was now under the care of Torrefranca.
“Giplano na gyod to niya kay ngano pag-abot namo sa iya balay, nagpagawas man siyag armas nga amo sabot amo ra man tan-awon unsay sulod sa vault? (Torrefranca already planned it because when we arrived in the house, why did he get a firearm when we when we agreed to be there only to open the vault and see what are inside the vault?)” said Omaña.
Omaña knew that there was money inside the vault as well since he was aware that her sister made a lot of money from her businesses.
However, he said Jedd was after the documents for the properties of his parents.
Omaña survived the shootout because he ran in the opposite direction from the barangay captain and Jed who were both killed by multiple shots of Torrefranca’s firearms after they were cornered inside a neighbor’s house.
Torrefranca then returned to his house and then set the house on fire when the police came to respond to the shooting incident.
Omaña said he would be contacting Delia’s daughter in Canada on what to do with the properties now that Jedd was dead.
Minutes after the death of Jedd and Bartilic, the police responded to the alarm. The presence of the police irked Torrefranca who began to set the house on fire.
“He did not want to be caught alive,” said Talisay City Deputy Chief, Police Major Ardioleto Cabagnot.
Cabagnot led the ground team composed of 50 policemen during the action to neutralize the armed assailant, and he admitted it was difficult to penetrate the house because of the smoke around it.
He said that during the entire shootout, they tried to call out to Torrefranca to surrender but the former US Marine had other plans.
“We heard that he had guns, grenades, and equipment inside. We could not underestimate his capabilities because he was an ex US Marine,” said Cabagnot.
They tried to put out the fire through the help of the Bureau of Fire Protection, but putting out the fire only brought more smoke and less visibility for the Talisay Police’s sharpshooters.
It took more than an hour to subdue Torrefranca who kept shooting at the policemen, almost getting one of the members of the Provincial Intelligence Branch (PIB).
The PIB had a graze wound on the forehead, he was immediately treated and was safe.
Cabagnot, Talisay Police Station deputy chief said that the difficulty to see because of smoke caused by the fire burning in the house, prompted him to move to another location, and he found a right spot just in front of the house.
Cabagnot claimed that it was his exchange of gunfire with the suspect from his vantage point in another house that ended the shootout with Torrefranca.
“Sige pa mig tira pero nakabantay na mi nga wala nay kisaw. Pagtan-aw namo, nahagba na siya sa lugar nga akong gitirahan. (We kept shooting but we noticed that there were no more return fire. When we checked, Torrefranca laid dead on the spot where I was shooting at),” said Cabagnot.
Cabagnot said that the former US Marine did show his prowess in the field of combat during the shootout, but it could not match that of the determined Talisay Police.
A village in mourning
Bartilic’s grandson, Ivan, said that the death of his grandfather shocked everyone in their family.
He said he was most worried of his grandmother who almost fainted when she heard of Bartilic’s death.
The family has still yet to decide on their plans to put to rest the remains of their patriarch.
As for the employees of Barangay Lawaan III, they said a certain kind of grief has been felt at the barangay hall after their chief’s death.
Echavez, with tears on his eyes, told CDN Digital that they lost a brave but kind chief who was not afraid to be the father to everyone.
“Isog siya apan nilabaw iyang pagka buotan. Mao na ang gikamatyan niya. (He was brave but more than that, he was kind. That was what killed him),” said Echavez.
Meanwhile, the Talisay City government has condemned the tragic incident that killed Bartilic and Ybañez in a statement./dbs
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