CEBU CITY - The police filed Wednesday a murder complaint against the alleged gunman in the fatal shooting of businessman Manuel Ting in Barangay Tisa, Cebu City last June 22.

At least two witnesses and five policemen pointed to Ruel Velez of Barangay Bolinawan, Carcar City as the assailant.

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With Velez's arrest, Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Chief Patrocinio Comendador Jr. and Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Lani-o Nerez said the police are "80-85 percent" done in solving the attack on Manuel Ting.

Two days after the hotelier was killed, Comendador said, the Task Force Ting under Superintendent Pablo Labra II began searching for Velez, 44, a suspected drug pusher and alleged member of a gun-for-hire group based in Carcar City, Cebu.

With the help of two eyewitnesses, the police came up with a sketch of the suspected gunman. Shown a picture of Velez, four witnesses, including Manuel's son, also identified Velez as the triggerman.

The first operation was made in Velez's residence in Barangay Ocaña, Carcar but the police failed to catch him there.

Last June 30, Labra's team tried to arrest Velez, but the latter slipped out of Cebu and allegedly went to Ozamis City.

Return

But when he heard about the manhunt, Velez contacted Comendador through the help of a middleman.

Comendador said he spoke with Velez over the phone and told the latter about allegations linking him to the murder of Manuel.

Velez denied any participation in the killing and agreed to return to Cebu City to clear his name.

Comendador said he informed Velez the latter can show up before the police, but if witnesses point to him as the gunman, the police will have to place him under arrest.

Velez and Labra's team met in a parking lot of a mall last Monday. During the meeting, the witnesses identified Velez as the one who shot and killed Manuel.

Based on that identification, the police arrested Velez.

The task force organized to focus on the case will continue gathering information and evidence to identify the mastermind.

No link

In the absence of concrete evidence, both officials said they cannot yet say if Larry Ting was involved in the killing of his uncle Manuel.

Larry was arrested last June 29 after his name was linked to the shooting that injured Manuel's younger brother, Nicolas Ting, last June 21 in Mandaue City. Nicolas was shot a day before Manuel.

Larry, who was tagged as the mastermind in the shooting but denied the allegation, is out on bail but faces a frustrated murder case.

"We will not stop. We will continue with the investigation," Nerez said.

The police brought Velez to the Palace of Justice for the inquest proceedings before Assistant City Prosecutor Alexander Acosta.

Velez signed a waiver for his continued detention, but will still have to submit a counter-affidavit and face a preliminary investigation.

He declined media interviews after he signed his waiver.

Witnesses

Velez's lawyer, Ferdie Riveral, said they will file the accused's counter-affidavit within 10 days.

In his affidavit, a trisikad driver said he was sitting along the road in front of a mall on F. Llamas St., Barangay Tisa when he saw a Mercedes Benz turning right in San Jose Village.

A man who wore a dark jacket and jeans suddenly appeared in front of the car and opened fire at the driver using a gun with a silencer, the witness said.

After shooting the victim, the gunman hurriedly walked to a waiting motorcycle and sped off toward the interior portion of Katipunan St., Cebu City.

The witness said he and a fellow driver went to the ambushed vehicle and saw the driver inside, bathed in his own blood.

Police investigators arrived shortly and identified the victim as Ting. "Still shaken from the incident that I witnessed, I decided to go home and just kept mum," the witness said. (The police requested that the witnesses' names be held, for their safety.)

Last June 23, the witness said a barangay tanod went to their house and asked if he saw the attack. They then went to the police station, where he narrated how the attack proceeded. He also identified the gunman from a picture the police had in their files.

Another witness corroborated the trisikad driver's account.

The second witness said he had just left a mall when he saw a man, who wore a dark jacket and jeans and held a black sling bag, standing near a bakery, "acting strangely."

The witness said he went inside an auto shop, only to be informed minutes later that somebody had been shot nearby.

The witness said the description of the suspect matched the man he saw standing near the bakeshop, before the shooting.

The witness then went to the homicide section of the CCPO, where he identified the alleged gunman from a photo kept by investigators.

Nicolas’s record

Two weeks after being ambushed, Nicolas felt well enough Wednesday to record his statements on the attack, which could help police investigators and his lawyer.

He said he was saddened by the death of his older brother Manuel, particularly since they were trying to reconcile when they were ambushed less than 24 hours apart last June.

Nicolas told his lawyer, Gloria Dalawampu, that his nephew Larry owed him about P23 million.

Larry was previously arrested on suspicion he planned the attack on Nicolas, but he is now out on bail and has denied any involvement. He said he would never hurt his uncle.

Nicolas also told his lawyer his car tire was punctured at least thrice in Cebu, apparently to make him an easy target. (This is consistent with one arrested suspect's statement, that Nicolas had been placed under surveillance before the attack.)

His daughter in-law, Mandaue City Councilor Emmarie Ouano-Dizon, said Wednesday the businessman is already out of the intensive care unit (ICU), but will probably have to undergo months of rehabilitation.

She said Nicolas, while recovering, cannot stand and walk on his own.

A gunman on a motorcycle pumped bullets into Nicolas, who was aboard his CRV, in Barangay Cabancalan, Mandaue City last June 21.

He suffered five gunshot wounds, one of which damaged a portion of his spinal cord.

Dalawampu spent about an hour Wednesday talking to Nicolas, an exchange they video-recorded. She said this will help her prepare documents to be used in a case against the suspects.

At one point, Dalawampu advised her client to rest for a while, but Nicolas wanted to keep going, until everything his lawyer needed to know was confirmed. (JTG/GMD/OCP of Sun.Star Cebu)