MANILA -- The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday said one of the victims in last week’s bloody hostage-taking incident “confirmed” initial findings that slain Police Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza went berserk and fired directly at the hostages.

In a text message to reporters, PNP spokesman Agrimero Cruz Jr. quoted survivor Chan Kwok Chu Joe as saying that Mendoza used an assault rifle to shoot the victims, particularly at the head.

“Chan’s detailed account of the incident bolstered initial findings of forensic investigators that Mendoza fired at least 59 shots inside the bus as indicated by recovered empty cartridge cases. According to Chan, Mendoza treated the hostages violently,” he said, referring to the report of Hong Kong Headline News over the weekend.

The PNP said that of the eight fatalities, five were Hong Kong nationals and the rest were Canadian citizens but the names and ages were not disclosed.

“The gunman made sure that every bullet was targeted and aimed at the head of each and every hostage,” Chan told the Chinese language paper.

Cruz said Chan’s firsthand account dismissed speculations that some hostages may have been hit by bullets of the 200-man Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team.

“Chan described how he and four other male hostages attempted to subdue the suspect but were successful when Mendoza evaded their attack and directed his weapon on them instantly killing three male hostages. Chan said he tried to shield himself from Mendoza’s gunfire using a bagful of bottled water but the bullets penetrated and nearly severed his arms,” he added.

The PNP said 58 of the 65 spent shells recovered from the bus were traced to Mendoza’s M-16 rifle while the origin of the remaining seven spent shells has yet to be identified. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)