TWO unidentified robbers were killed and another one seriously wounded in a robbery attempt that went awry Thursday morning after police foiled their plans. A fourth robber was able to escape.

A police intelligence unit intercepted the unidentified suspects an hour before they could rob a residence cum office of an Indian national who is into lending and check encashment business in Adela Subdivision in Barangay Camaman-an around 8:30 a.m.

The residence is reportedly owned by Norjahan Moorjani, who engages in “5-6” money lending business and check encashment at her residence.

Senior Superintendent Graciano Mijares, Cagayan de Oro Police Office chief, confirmed that the non-uniformed agents of the city’s police intelligence department were the ones who foiled the robbery attempt of about eight armed men that hit Gob’s Store in Adela Subdivision.

Police foil robbery in Cagayan de Oro City

Mijares said the police received reports that armed men were seen at Adela Subdivision, prompting the police to respond to the area.

“We are very thankful of the responsive community that informed the police of the suspicious motorcycle riding men casing the area,” Mijares said.

Mijares said one of the suspects who survived the shootout was Gilbert Porras, 31, a native of Baybay, Tubod, Lanao del Norte. He could help track the other suspects who eluded arrest, he added.

Porras is confined at a public hospital in Cagayan de Oro and closely guarded by the police.

“After the shooting, the police immediately gathered all the weapons. The police confiscated a .38 and .45 caliber auto-pistol,” Superintendent Michael John Deloso, chief of investigation and detective management, said in a television report.

Deloso added the suspects hailed from Digos City.

According to Superintendent Danildo Tumanda, chief of the City Public Safety Company, one of the gunmen was able to get inside the residence of Moorjani when her staff responded to a knock at the main gate.

The incident was recorded through a close-circuit television (CCTV) camera that was positioned at the gate.

“It was a good thing that the staff had presence of mind. She immediately shouted for help so the other people in the house were alerted,” he said.

Tumanda also said that the robber ran out of the house when he realized he could not push through with his plan.

Witnesses account

Neighbors of the Moorjanis said they saw four armed men who wore helmets and bonnets, shooting at fleeing robbers who failed to rob their victim.

“We thought one of our neighbors lighted firecrackers,” said Micah Curilan, whose house is located right across where two of the alleged robbers were gunned down.

Curilan said she peeked from her window so she could see the "fireworks display" but was curious why the sparks were not lighting upwards.

“I could see sparks coming from the ground then I saw two men pinned to a concrete wall,” she said.

Realizing that what she heard were gunshots, she immediately ducked.

A resident, who was just meters away from the shooting, said he was laying down pieces of firewood along the street when he heard a burst of fire.

“I thought it was just fireworks but when I looked up, I saw the men and figured it was a shootout,” he said.

Some of the victims tried to flee on board a motorcycle, but upon driving a few meters, they were hit, killing one rider instantly.

Another witness account said the shooters were positioned on each end of the street. “I saw one before the shootout, he was standing in the alley wearing a helmet,” he said.

Another witness said that during the shootout, one of the robbers was still alive, while witnesses tried to help the other lying in front of the house of Moorjani.

“We wanted to help the robber,” one witness said.

Another witness said that the shooters took away the gun of the robber and ran after the other motorcycle. “Another burst of fire took place at the corner.”

The witnesses then saw one of the shooters went back and shot three times the robber who was still alive.

“He pointed his gun, as the suspect raised his hand, probably pleading for life,” another witness said.

The witnesses asked Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro to keep their identities for fear of their lives.

The one who pleaded for his life was also shot on his right hand.

Another witness said the robbers were helpless as the stakeout against them by the shooters was well planned.

“They have no chances, the shooters knew what was going to happen, they planned the hit against the robbers well,” a witness said.

Pursuing robber who escaped

Elements of the Cogon police station who responded to the shootout ran after the suspect, who escaped the crime scene while the shooters were able to get away from the other direction.

Elements from the city’s bomb squad scoured the grassy area where witnesses pointed to the direction where the suspect went.

The suspect went through the shanties along the creek, and passed through several houses with the police on his heels.

The suspect went through the house of the Tamparong family, with one family member narrating to the police that the suspect changed his shirt and made an exit through joining the crowd on Archbishop Hayes Street toward Cogon market.

Tumanda confirmed that the weapons of suspects who were killed were not found on the crime scene.

Cellphone messages

Tumanda believed there was an insider at Gob’s Store judging from the text messages in the cellphone obtained from one of those killed.

The message read: “Ang vault gyud pangita mo paagi unsaon pagsulod basta ang kwarta naa sulod sa vault; ang vault gyud naa sa second floor daghan kayo sulod kwarta, open ang vault lakip ang dollar gi-plastar diha gahapon (Find a way to open the vault, located on the second floor, as it’s stuffed with a lot of money including dollars).”

The last two messages in the cellphone read: “It’s all clear here, so quiet, we can strike now.”

And the last message read, “Bro, you’re on the second floor,” which referred to the plan that one must proceed to the second floor.

Tumanda said there were no names registered in the phone.

“The SIM (card) could be intended only for that single operation,” he added.

Tumanda said the motive of the victims to rob the Moorjani residence was clear.

The Scene of the Crime Operatives (Soco) recovered 9 mm and .45 caliber slugs near the dead bodies. The Soco also retrieved M16 slugs, believed to be used by the shooters.

Dr. Christian Caballes of Soco in Northern Mindanao said they recovered two motorcycles, a cell phone unit and fired bullets of caliber .45 and empty shells of caliber 5.56.

The police also recovered plastic tapes inside paper bags. “The tapes were going to be used to tie the victims,” Tumanda said.

Tumanda believed that the killed robbers were probably the same group that robbed money-lending companies in the city.

Other lending robbery cases

“I think this is the same group that hit Elizabeth Dagomo on June 21, the same day that the Cagayan de Oro Electric Power and Light Company (Cepalco) was robbed,” Tumanda said.

Dagomo was robbed in her home with four robbers on motorcycles, wearing helmets. She lost P400,000.

Well-wishes on the Moorjanis

On the Facebook page of Noor Moorjani, friends posted their concerns, with one posting saying: “Stay safe Noor Moorjani! Let’s be thankful that you, Gobind and everybody is safe and sound . . .”

Another posted: “Thank God, Noor Moorjani and her son is safe.” (With Cai D. Panlilio )