6-year-old killed by stray bullet in Caloocan police operation

MANILA, Philippines – A 6-year-old boy was killed and his grandmother was injured when a bullet from a firefight between a cop and a supposed suspect hit him at around 2 pm Sunday, April 28.

Gian Habal, a Grade 1 student, was playing outside his home in Barangay 178 with his mother when he was hit by a bullet in the head. It came from an encounter between Caloocan cop Corporal Rocky delos Reyes and a still unidentified suspect.

Habal's grandmother, 65-year-old Elsa Montañez, was injured after she was shot by Delos Reyes in the foot before he took off, police said.

According to police, their colleague Delos Reyes was apparently patroling when he saw the suspect and chased him to arrest him. They chase led to the front of the boy's house.

Habal was rushed to the Caloocan City North Medical Center but was pronounced dead at 2:40 pm. (READ: Skyler Abatayo hit by stray bullet after doing school assignment)

Delos Reyes has since surrendered to his Caloocan colleagues for them to check whether the operation was regular. They now believe it was not.

Cop now a suspect

In a phone interview with Rappler, Metro Manila police chief Major General Guillermo Eleazar said they now consider Delos Reyes a suspect in the killing of the child. (READ: 15-year-old victim of 'stray bullet' dies)

Citing information from his Caloocan subordinates, Eleazar said Delos Reyes had no business in the area because he was not part of the arrest section of the Caloocan police. Delos Reyes, Eleazar said, was a member of the Caloocan police's administration unit.

"Hindi siya dapat nag-aresto. Dapat support lang siya, nasa opisina," Eleazar said. (He shouldn't be arresting. He should be supporting, inside the office.)

Eleazar also said they are now preparing criminal charges of homicide and physical injury, as well as an administrative case for grave misconduct, against Delos Reyes. Delos Reyes, according to Eleazar, already had a previous case involving an illegal misfire from his firearm.

"Malalagot na siya dito. Operation pa lang, irregular na (He will pay for this. Just the operation alone was irregular)," Eleazar said. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.