MANILA, Philippines — A man who appeared in a photograph aiming his gun at a local councilman moments before he was fatally shot in front of his family has been arrested in his northern Philippine hide-out, police said Friday.
The victim, Councilman Reynaldo Dagsa of Caloocan city in metropolitan Manila, took the picture as he was standing outside his house photographing his smiling wife, daughter and mother-in-law on New Year’s Eve. The picture earlier led to the arrests of a second suspected gunman and an alleged accomplice.
Police Chief Jimmy Rivera of Isabela province said the latest suspect arrested, Arnel Buenaflor, was captured late Thursday in a boarding house in Aurora township, about 170 miles north of Manila. Rivera showed reporters a baseball cap with a distinctive blue-and-red insignia that police recovered from Buenaflor and said it was the same one worn by the suspect in the picture.
Caloocan city police chief Jude Santos said Buenaflor, who had been released on bail while facing robbery charges, admitted to arresting officers that he shot the victim. He claimed the councilman, who had the reputation of being tough on crime, was "heavy handed" on suspects, including him, Santos said.
Police obtained the photograph from Dagsa’s family and said it helped them obtain tips and leads that led to the suspects. The photo was first published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Tuesday.
Police said Buenaflor fired four shots and one hit Dagsa in the chest, while the second alleged gunman who is not seen in the photo fired a shot from behind Dagsa but missed him.
Dagsa’s family said they did not notice the gunshots because of exploding firecrackers amid the New Year’s revelry.
Santos said they tracked Buenaflor down to a rented room in the northern Philippines after police in Isabela recovered a cell phone of his live-in partner, which she apparently dropped in a bus they boarded in their escape from Manila. Santos said she was being questioned by police about her role in helping Buenaflor to hide.
He said police will file murder charges against Buenaflor, the second alleged gunman and the alleged accomplice who acted as a lookout during the shooting.