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Task Force Nicole to focus probe on more suspects

Pete Laude - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Task Group Nicole, a special unit created by the police to investigate the death of stray bullet victim Stephanie Nicole Ella, is focusing on a different set of suspects other than those eyed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Task group spokesman Superintendent Jackie Candelario said they are not competing with the NBI in the investigation but are undertaking an “elimination process” for the possible suspects.

“Although the NBI is conducting its own parallel investigation into the case, we only have one purpose – to identify, arrest and charge the real gunman,” Candelario said.

Candelario noted reports that the NBI had an eyewitness who could identify the gunman who fired shots on New Year’s Eve that could have hit Ella in the head.

Candelario stressed they are being thorough in their investigation in order to have a “very tight case” against the suspect.

He said this would involve the personal account of the witness and the results of crime laboratory examination of recovered slugs.

“With the absence of either of these crucial elements, we could not put up a solid case against the suspect,” Candelario said.

Caloocan City police chief Senior Superintendent Rimas Calixto refused to reveal details of the investigation but said they are closing in on the suspect.

“Like the victim’s family, police are also hoping to get the real gunman before the victim’s burial,” Calixto said.

Candelario said Juan Agus and his three friends have been out on bail since Tuesday. The four were the girl’s neighbors in Barangay 185 in Malaria who were charged with alarm and scandal, having admitted to firing a .45 caliber pistol in welcoming the New Year. 

Candelario said the four could still be “recalled” if any new evidence linking them to the crime is presented.

Cross-matching of a slug taken from the head of the victim and one fired from the gun used by Agus and his friends yielded negative results.

Nicole, a grade one pupil at the Tala Elementary School, was killed by a stray bullet from a .45 caliber pistol while watching fireworks outside her home on New Year’s Eve.

CALOOCAN CITY

CANDELARIO

JUAN AGUS

NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION

NEW YEAR

SENIOR SUPERINTENDENT RIMAS CALIXTO

STEPHANIE NICOLE ELLA

SUPERINTENDENT JACKIE CANDELARIO

TALA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

TASK GROUP NICOLE

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