King ‘gunman’ caught in Davao; cop surrenders-A A +A
Monday, June 23, 2014
DAVAO CITY (Updated) -- Five witnesses in the murder of businessman Richard L. King identified two of three men who are now in police custody, following the surrender of a self-confessed accomplice last Sunday.
A charge of illegal possession of firearms was filed in Davao City on Monday against Paul Dave Molina Labang, 24, of Toril.
Witnesses singled him out from a police line-up and identified him as the man who walked up to King last June 12 and shot him in the head. A separate murder complaint is still being prepared.
As of Monday, the Police Regional Office (PRO)-Davao neither confirmed nor denied the role of a police officer in King’s murder. The self-confessed accomplice has said it was a police officer who called the triggerman to look for and kill King in his Barrio Obrero office.
Rommel dela Cerna, 39, surrendered to the police last Sunday and claimed that in the afternoon of June 12, Labang received a phone call from a police official instructing him to look for the businessman at his office in Barrio Obrero.
The police officer, later identified as Police Superintendent Leonardo A. Felonia, surrendered to Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte Monday night, television reports said.
But Felonia, the chief of the Regional Intelligence Unit Davao Region of the Philippine National Police's Intelligence Group, denied involvement in the crime.
Edward Tan, spokesperson of the King family, declined to comment on Labang's arrest.
“No comment lang usa ko ana sa investigation. Let them do their work first. In time they will release an official statement,” Tan said in a text message sent to Sun.Star Cebu.
PRO-Davao spokesperson Chief Inspector Jed Clamor declined to comment on the alleged involvement of Felonia, pending a case conference with Chief Superintendent Wendy Rosario.
When asked who got the P1.3-million reward, Clamor said he also has no idea and that only Mayor Duterte will decide that.
The Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) arrested around 10 a.m. last Sunday two other men whom Dela Cerna pointed to as the other accomplices in the killing. (Dela Cerna was also described as a police asset.)
Arrested apart from Labang was Rommel’s brother Rodel dela Cerna, a motorcycle driver, at the Laud Firing Range in Maa.
A source, who refused to be named because he wasn’t authorized to speak about the case, said the three suspects are workers of the Laud Firing Range, adding that Rommel went to the Davao City Police Office Friday morning to report the crime.
SPO1 Richard Dionisio and PO2 Welquin Enciso, in a joint affidavit, said their office received a phone call around 9 a.m. Sunday, informing them a man with what seemed to be a firearm bulging from his waist was seen along the road in front of the the Laud Firing Range.
Police went to the scene and spotted Labang; they said they subdued him before he could pull out his gun and fire.
Recovered from his possession was a loaded .45 ACP Series 80 Colt Mark IV pistol (serial number FN33020), along with a magazine with seven live rounds in his bag.
Rommel said he was the first one who searched for King inside the Vital-C building. After confirming that the businessman was in the building, Labang then entered the office and allegedly shot the victim in the head.
Witnesses earlier said they saw the man milling outside the office door, but no one paid much attention, thinking that he was a companion of one of their fellow distributors, with whom King was meeting that night.
Clamor said the alleged gunman and the motorcycle driver were placed in a line-up, and five witnesses identified Labang as the one who shot King. Rodel was identified as his driver.
Both men are currently detained at the Davao City Police Office. Rommel is detained at the Sta. Ana Police Station.
The investigation will continue.
“Even if we arrested the alleged gunman, we still have to find out who is behind King’s death and if the gunman was just ordered to kill the victim,” explained Clamor in a phone interview.
At 6:45 p.m. last June 12, King, who owned and operated the Crown Regency Group of Hotels, was shot dead inside the Vital C office on Sobrecary St. in Davao City by a lone gunman. Several people witnessed the attack. (With Jill T. Rabor of Sun.Star Cebu/Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)