MANILA (Updated 11:19 a.m.) -- One of bus hostage victims confirmed initial findings that the slain hostage-taker went berserk and fired directly at hostages, police said Monday.
In a text message to reporters, Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman Agrimero Cruz Jr. quoted survivor Chan Kwok Chu Joe as saying that dismissed policeman Rolando Mendoza used an assault rifle to shoot the victims in 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 police said that of the eight fatalities, five were Hong Kong nationals and the remaining three 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.
"Chan described how he and four other male hostages attempted to subdue the suspect but were unsuccessful when Mendoza evaded their attack and directed his weapon at 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.
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.
On Monday, a television report also said not one of the slain victims of the August 23 hostage crisis was killed by friendly fire on forensic analysis.
Initial forensic analysis said spent shells recovered at the scene were mostly from the hostage-taker's firearm.
Police said 58 of the 65 spent shells recovered from the bus were traced to Mendoza’s M16 rifle while the origin of the remaining seven spent shells has yet to ascertained.
Cruz also said the M16 rifle used by the hostage-taker was positive for gun powder nitrates indicating it was repeatedly fired during the incident. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)