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Police hunt down road rage suspect

The suspect who killed a cyclist and wounded a teenage bystander Monday night was given until yesterday to surrender or face a “shoot to kill order.”

This warning was given by Manila Police District (MPD) director Senior Supt. Joel Coronel who identified the murder suspect as Vhon Martin Tanto, a 39-year-old Army reservist of Quiapo, Manila.

Tanto was positively identified by Bryan Yu, a witness, as the man who shot dead Mark Vincent Garalde, a gaming assistant, and wounded 18-year-old Rocel Bondoc, who remained in critical condition.

Coronel gave Tanto until 5 p.m. yesterday to give himself up. He was not at his house in Quiapo when police visited him.

“Full strength of MPD will hunt him. Dead or alive we want him,” Coronel said during a press briefing at the MPD headquarters.

The police official said the manhunt operation will be carried out using “deadly force if necessary depending on the situation.”

“Shoot to kill will be enforced depending on the situation. We will exercise extreme care and use deadly if necessary because we consider him armed and dangerous,” Coronel said.

“Makita niyo naman sa video kung paano niya pinatay ’yung victim nang walang pakundangan. Kaya panawagan ko sa kanya na kusang loob na sumuko at harapin ang mga akusasyon,” he added.

Police said the conduction sticker of the vehicle used by Tanto matched those shown on the closed circuit television (CCTV).

Tanto faces murder and homicide charges which are non-bailable offenses.

According to informants, Tanto is holder of three firearms under his name.

Garalde was shot five times by the suspect on P. Casal Street, Quiapo, Manila.

A footage from a CCTV camera installed near the scene in Barangay 385, Zone 39, showed the incident unfolded when the suspect’s car blocked Garalde who was on board his mountain bike.

A verbal altercation ensued followed by a fistfight.

After the two-minute fight, Tanto went back to his vehicle, got his firearm, confronted Ga-ralde and shot him point-blank on the head. He continued to shoot the victim even after he fell down on the pavement.

The suspect fled toward Ayala Bridge.

Meanwhile, police said Bondoc was hit by the stray bullet and was rushed to the Mary Child Hospital where she remained at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Meanwhile, Nestor Punzalan, wrongly accused in the social media as the road rage suspect, surfaced yesterday to deny that he’s the man shown on video who shot dead a cyclist following a fistfight Monday night.

Netizens had earlier tagged him as suspect which turned out to be a mistake.

DJ Jimenez, Punzalan’s lawyer, called on journalists to become more responsible in their reportage.

“Responsible journalism demands credible sources to share and should not allow irresponsible tagging or sharing as they clearly contribute to whatever bullying or intimidation, as well as danger that an unsuspecting individual may face because of a very reckless and irresponsible news feed,” he said.

He added that Punzalan is yet to take legal actions against those behind the spread of his photos online.

“For now his and his family’s immediate concern is to clear his name. After this they reserve all options within the bounds of the law to address the damage they sustained,” he said. (With reports from Analou de Vera and Jaimie Rose R. Aberia) (BETHEENA KAE UNITE)