'Syringe-wielding' man sparks fear in Cebu City

'Syringe-wielding' man sparks fear in Cebu City

POLICE authorities and the security office of a mall located along N. Bacalso Avenue in Cebu City are investigating an individual who has allegedly been causing harm to others by threatening them with a syringe in the vicinity.

Initial reports from the city police showed that the individual allegedly had a mental disability.

On Sept. 26, 2023, circulating compiled screenshots showed netizens claiming a man brandished a syringe in Cebu City, particularly around the Colon Street and N. Bacalso Avenue area.

One incident was said to have happened in Elizabeth Mall (Emall) located along N. Bacalso Avenue, when a man allegedly injected a syringe into a mall goer who was riding the escalator.

The post on social media garnered various reactions from netizens who felt fear that they might become potential victims.

Meanwhile, another post from another netizen, named Alexa Brigoli, said they were approached by a man wearing a purple shirt on their way to a university located along P. Del Rosario Street.

The man, she described, was allegedly bringing a syringe and asking for change.

“Naay nikalit ug duol sakong mega nga laki ga purple tugma kaayos post sa lalaki ganina nya nikuhit nya nangayog plite namu nya gadala siyag syringe,” Brigoli said in the social media post.

(A guy suddently approached my friend. He was wearing a purple shirt just as described in the posts. He was bringing a syringe and asked for change.)

A day after the post made rounds on social media, the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) placed undercover personnel in the surrounding areas of the mall to observe if there were any suspicious activities or suspected criminals in the area.

Emall’s statement

The management of Emall, on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, issued an official statement to formally address the circulating post of an alleged man with a syringe roaming around the mall’s vicinity.

The management said it had already investigated the matter.

“Undoubtedly, this alleged incident poses a serious security and safety threat to the public, not only the shoppers but also to the staff and personnel of the mall and its tenants. Thus, upon our knowledge of the post, our Security office immediately conducted an investigation,” Emall said in the statement.

However, Emall said their initial investigation indicates that no report of any incident as described in the circulating posts on social media was made to any of their security officers and per their review of the CCTV available, there were no incidents or commotions at the mall during the period mentioned that would indicate an incident as described in the post.

Moreover, the management said that they verified it with Police Station 5, and there were no reports or police blotter of similar incidents from any possible victim.

“While we believe that a person brandishing a syringe or any weapon for that matter and threatening people inside the mall is unlikely given the presence of our roving guards, we have reached out to the person who made the post and asked him and his friend to share more details in order to shed some light on the incident and help our investigation,” Emall further said.

Mentally challenged

In an interview with media on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023, Police Lieutenant Colonel Janette Rafter, the deputy city director for operation and current information officer of the CCPO, said the suspect who was identified as wearing a purple shirt in the social media post has been identified to be mentally challenged and has been rescued.

“Daghan mag sulti na kining tawhana used to magdala gyud na either ball pen or barbecue stick,” said Rafter.

(Many people would say that this person used to always carry either a ballpen or a barbecue stick.)

Rafter also said that CCPO is trying to reunite the suspected individual with his family, but said it is somehow difficult because the person is not from Cebu City.

Appeal to the public

Rafter appealed to the public to not immediately post on social media if there is no certainty of crimes because it can create fear or alarm the public and it is best to report it to the police station. 

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