MISTAKEN IDENTITY?: Cops eye illegal drugs in San Carlos shooting

Scene of the Crime Operations (SOCO) members probe the car where three persons were killed in an ambush at Barangay Palampas, San Carlos City, Negros Occidental Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Negros Occidental Provincial Police Office)

By Glazyl Y. Masculino and Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – Police are looking into illegal drugs as a possible angle behind the gun attack on four persons that claimed three lives in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental last Sunday.

Police Staff Sergeant Mark Anthony Pasilan, case investigator of San Carlos City Police Station, revealed on Monday that the owner of the white Mazda sedan that was riddled with bullets by four unidentified armed men at Hacienda Villa Lina, Barangay Palampas, was owned by an alleged drug personality in the city.

Andre Fajardo, 18, of Barangay 6; Russel Bucao, 40, of Barangay Rizal; Rudy Dela Fuente, 52, of San Juan Baybay; and Renante Chui, 27, of Barangay 6, were on board the car driven by Bucao when they were waylaid and shot by the armed men.

The suspects were reportedly seen fleeing on board a silver van, according to Pasilan.

Dela Fuente was sitting on the front seat, while Fajardo and Chiu were sitting at the passenger seat, Pasilan said.

Fajardo, a runner/helper; Bucao, who was hired as a driver that day; and Dela Fuente, a fighting cock handler, were killed in the attack due to multiple gunshot wounds; while Chui was wounded in the incident.

The victims were on their way to a cockpit arena when waylaid.

Pasilan said that it is possible that the suspects tailed the sedan and later overtook them then waited at the ambush site.

“Possible na may spotter kag ginhulat ang salakayan maglabay didto, targeting the car owner pero wala to siya nakasakay at that time,” Pasilan said.

Police recovered from the scene 58 empty shells of 5.56 mm ammunition and a fired slug of .45 caliber.

The incident happened in a secluded part of the village which is far from the houses.

Pasilan said that it was Bucao who reportedly looked for a car to be used that day because of his sideline as a driver.

But upon checking, Pasilan said that the alleged drug personality bought the car from the first owner, but it had no deed of sale.

“Possible na nadalahig lang gid ni sila na apat,” Pasilan said.

He said he has yet to talk to the lone survivor in the incident, as he will be subjected for surgery.

He said that Chui is already in stable condition in a hospital.

Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said he also received information that the incident was a case of mistaken identity, citing police reports.

Lacson, who is a former mayor of San Carlos, said he received information that the suspects’ target was not inside the car.

The governor said the authorities need to identify the real target of the ambush, what were the reasons for it, and identify the perpetrators.

“Very unfortunate for the personalities inside the car and I understand makadto man lang to sila sa bulangan,” Lacson said.

The governor called on Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office (NOCPPO) acting director Police Colonel Leo Pamitan to leave no stone unturned in the investigation.

He also said the suspects are not members of the New People’s Army (NPA) while the victims were ordinary San Carlos City residents.