The shooting of a 20-year-old man in Barangay Putingbato in Buenavista may have been a case of “mistaken identity” as police suspect that the alleged gunman, a noted hitman, was out to ambush cops.
Alleged gun-for-hire Emidio Aparece Jr. may have been targeting cops who were delivering food to a police unit stationed in the village specifically to hunt him down, said SPO4 Rolando Amor, Buenavista police officer-in-charge.
Enrique Añocop who was allegedly shot and injured by Aparece on Wednesday night may have been mistakenly identified as a police officer, Amor added.
According to Amor, authorities have placed a P200,000-bounty on the head of Aparece but the alleged hitman who has been charged with multiple murder raps remained elusive.
Police have also started to distribute photos of Aparece in Buenavista and neighboring towns for his hastened arrest.
Amor noted that several attempts to apprehend Aparece have been made but the suspect always managed to escape while members of his group have either been killed or taken into police custody.
The police official said that residents, particularly those living near Aparece’s hideouts, have not been cooperative in the police’s efforts to catch the suspect.
Villagers are afraid to provide information on the suspect’s whereabouts in fear of drawing his ire, added Amor.
In 2016 and 2017, two village officials of Putingbato, barangay captain Antonio Neones Sr. and councilor Ursolo Petalcorin, respectively, were shot dead in Buenavista.
Authorities believe that they were killed by Aparece after they tipped the police off on his location.
According to Amor, operatives of the Provincial Public Safety Company and the Regional Public Safety Company have been deployed to assist the Buenavista police in hunting down Aparece.
Amor also called on residents in the Putingbato area and nearby villages to immediately report to police any information on the whereabouts of the fugitive. (A. Doydora)