Alleged gunman in LTO official’s slay nabbed

Mark Ernest Villeza, Bella Cariaso - The Philippine Star
Alleged gunman in LTO official�s slay nabbed
Crime scene investigators gather evidence from the vehicle of Land Transportation Office registration division chief Mercedita Gutierrez, who was killed in an ambush along K-H street in Quezon City on May 24, 2024.
Contributed photo

MANILA, Philippines — The suspected gunman in the murder of an official of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) has been arrested by police, Interior and Local Government Secretary Benhur Abalos announced yesterday.

Abalos did not identify the suspect, who is now under police custody.

“Police have arrested a suspect in the killing. Let’s wait for the inquest proceedings,” Abalos told reporters. “What is important is that there is a suspect who is being held by police.”

Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo said the suspect was tagged in the murder of Mercedita Gutierrez, 64, chief of the LTO’s registration division.

Fajardo said four witnesses have positively identified the suspect as the alleged gunman.

Despite the progress in the case, Fajardo said the motive for the killing remains unclear.

Probers are still looking into the possible motive, which Abalos said is apparently not work-related.

“I don’t want to disclose the motive for the meantime. Let’s wait for the inquest proceedings,” he said.

Investigation showed that Gutierrez was driving her Toyota Starex van when she was ambushed at the corner of K-8th street and Kamias Road in Barangay Pinyahan on May 24.

The Quezon City Police District (QCPD) has formed a special investigation task group to fast-track the probe on the killing of Gutierrez.

A witness told police that a man on a motorcycle stopped along the road in between Gutierrez’s vehicle and a truck.

The gunman, who was wearing a helmet, alighted from the motorcycle and fired at Gutierrez twice in the face.

She lost control of the steering wheel, causing her vehicle to crash into a delivery van.

Police investigators said they recovered two bullet casings and two deformed bullets from a .45-caliber handgun at the scene.

The QCPD said it is investigating if the suspect is affiliated with a gun-for-hire group.

LTO chief Vigor Mendoza II has condemned Gutierrez’s killing.

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