NO BAIL FOR 3
Murder raps filed; Talisay mayor to reward ‘brave’ witnesses in McDonald’s shooting
by Ador Vincent Mayol
Apple Taas and Anthony Silva
In a room at Camp Sergio Osmeña, a woman’s scream was heard through the closed doors.
The shock of seeing photos of “Tata”, a suspected gunmen in the Feb. 20 shooting of three foreigners in a McDonald’s outlet in Talisay city, brought on a painful flashback for 24-year-old Sheila Jane Gimutao yesterday.
“The police showed me various pictures. I could identify him. I saw him shoot my boyfriend,” she told reporters later.
There was an image from a CCTV camera taken at the fast-food outlet and a police gallery mugshot of the man known as Dexci “Tata” Gomonte, who remains at large.
He was charged yesterday with murder and two counts of frustrated murder before the Talisay City Prosecutor’s Office.
No bail was recommended for three other arrested suspects in the shooting incident that resulted in the death of German engineer Henry Haffner, 31, and injured an Indian and a French national who were customers at the fast food outlet.
Police yesterday filed charges of murder, two counts of frustrated murder, and illegal possession of firearms against Talisay residents Ricci Edwin Ramirez Jr., Allan Veloz, and Roger Cal.
Ramirez, a trisikad driver, was also charged with illegal possession of drugs after he was allegedly caught with five grams of shabu at home barangay Tabunok, Talisay City last Saturday afternoon.
The cases, which are heinous crimes, will go straight to the Regional Trial Court in Cebu City after the three suspects waived a preliminary investigation during inquest proceedings before Assistant Prosecutor Hyacinth Jadraque.
Police are still trying to get the full identity of a fifth suspect, known only as “Macmac”.
Talisay City Mayor Johnny de los Reyes said he would award P10,000 each to two witnesses who helped lead police to arrest the suspects, and promised to help provide protection against any reprisal.
¨This is a token of gratitude for their courage to stand up,”he said in a press conference.
¨I hope that that more people follow their example. If we all stay silent, if we all stay scared, our city will become a ghost town because investors will leave,¨ said the mayor.
The two witness accounts led to the arrest of the first suspect, Allan Veloz, at 6 p.m. on the same day of the attack.
Talisay City Police Chief Supt. Reycel Carmelo Dayon was given a a certificate of recognition by the mayor for the speedy resolution of the case.
Dayon said involvement of the community was key.
¨If there is no cooperation from the people, no witnesses, there will be no solution to the problem,¨ he said.
The police chief said the two witnesses were first reluctant to speak up because they feared for their lives since the suspects were ¨armed¨ and ¨organized.¨
Dayon assured both that he would do his best to enroll them in the Witness Protection Program of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and that the Talisay city government “is also ready to defend them.”
Ramirez, one of the suspects, yesterday recanted an earlier confession to the police that he was the one who shot the German tourist and that “Tata” had brought him along.
“Dili ako ang nagpusil. Nadamay ra ko ani. (I wasn’t the one who shot the victims. I was just implicated)” said the trisikad driver while covering his face with a jacket.
French national Julian Millard, 31, who had been shot in the right arm and right leg, arrived past 3 p.m. While being interviewed by reporters, a Talisay policeman served him a warrant of arrest issued by a Siquijor trial court for a case of violation of Republic Act 9262 or the Anti-Violence Act against Women and Children. Millard, who spoke fluent Cebuano, read the warrant and told reporters it was filed by his wife, from whom he’s separated.
“My wife filed this case to retaliate after we parted ways. She wants to humiliate me,” he said. Millard said he would post bail tomorrow because he plans to go home to Corsica.
Haffner’s Cebuana girlfriend Gimutao attended the inquest accompanied by an American and a Filipino friend.
She remained calm and dry eyed as the three arrested suspects were brought into the prosecutor’s one by one.
“I have to move on. I have to clear my mind and focus on things,” she said. She confirmed the presence of “Tata” Gomonte as one of the shooters.
“I saw him there although I didn’t notice him firing shots at us. In a range of 1 to ten, I must say that it’s a 10 if you ask me how sure I am,” Gimutao told CDN. She had earlier identified Veloz as one of the assailants at the scene who acted as a lookout.
A companion of Gimutao, who asked not to be identified, commended authorities for the speedy arrest.
“They identified the principal suspects in 72 hours. That’s all that can be expected. This is excellent police work,” he said, adding that he’s not worried about peace and order in Cebu as he views the shooting as an isolated case. Gimutao agreed.
“Somehow, I’m happy with how the investigation has been conducted. I’m satisfied with how things go although not all the suspects were captured for now.”
She said about eight men were present during the attack in the McDonalds outlet, where she and her boyfriend dropped by to drink hot chocolate while waiting for a friend, who would guide them on a trip to Oslob town.
Police said the German was not the target as the assailants were after the two other foreign customers, who had a verbal confrontation with two local men in the restaurant earlier.
One of the suspects was heard taunting Indian national Cheten Saparaiya : “Dili pautang. . . pautanga mi, Turko! (He won’t lend us money… Give us a loan, Turk)”.
A brief commotion between both groups was pacified by the security guard. The two local men left, but returned with armed companions on board motorbikes. Haffner who ran upstairs, was chased and shot down.
Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of Cebudailynews. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.