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Sirens & Gavels

Slain official caught suspect on camera

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine police investigating the New Year's Eve shooting death of a local councilman did not have to look further than the last photograph the victim took.

That photo led to the arrest of one of two alleged gunmen and an accomplice, police said Wednesday.

The picture, taken outside the councilman's house in metropolitan Manila, clearly shows a man aiming his gun from behind the victim's smiling three-member family, seconds before he was shot.

The relatives — Councilman Reynaldo Dagsa's wife, daughter and mother-in-law — are seen standing beside the family's car, which has lights on, and the gunman, wearing a baseball cap with its visor turned back, is bracing himself against the vehicle and pointing his gun at Dagsa. His face is slightly obscured by the gun. The car was parked along an alley outside the Dagsas' house.

In another corner of the photograph (shown above) is a man police identified as the assassin's lookout.  Police investigator Cris Galvez told The Associated Press Wednesday that Dagsa was shot as he pressed the shutter of his camera. Dagsa's family gave police the photo, which ran on the Philippine Daily Inquirer's front page Tuesday.

The gunman in the picture fired about four shots but only one hit Dagsa, Galvez said. The bullet went through Dagsa's arm and hit him in the chest. He later died in a hospital.

Galvez said a second gunman, who was standing behind Dagsa and is not seen in the photo, also fired one shot but missed.

Caloocan city police chief Jude Santos earlier said a man identified as the gunman in the picture, Arnel Buenaflor, was arrested Monday, but later corrected himself saying police nabbed the second shooting suspect, Frederick Sales, and one of two suspected lookouts. He said Buenaflor was a car thief who was released on bail and likely sought revenge against Dagsa for ordering his arrest last year.

All the suspects are members of a gang involved in car thefts and robbery holdups, police said.

“It was personal revenge. They all helped each other,” Galvez said.

Dagsa, 38, had a reputation of a hardworking councilman tough on crime, he said.

His wife and daughter, speaking to reporters at their home Tuesday, said the victim had asked them to wake him up before the stroke of midnight so he could join in the usually noisy New Year's street revelry that comes with lots of firecrackers.

The family members said they did not hear a gunshot because the firecrackers were exploding all around them. They only saw Dagsa falling to the ground after he was hit. They said they rushed him to the hospital but it was too late.


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