An 11-year-old girl from Las Piñas who went out of their house to watch their neighbors’ fireworks display for the New Year died after being hit by a stray bullet.
The police identified the victim as Darlene Gutierrez of Vincentville Subdivision in Pulang Lupa, Las Piñas.
She died at around midnight of January 1.
In a report by GMA’s Unang Balita, Las Piñas City police chief Senior Superintendent Jemar Modequillo said they are not yet considering Gutierrez as a stray bullet victim.
Modequillo said the child may be a victim of a shooting incident because circumstantial evidence show the suspect was likely near the area where she was hit.
The victim’s father, Roldan Gutierrez, said his daughter asked permission to go out of the house ahead of the New Year’s celebration to watch the fireworks displays and await the throwing of coins by one of their neighbors.
Gutierrez said he was shocked when he was informed by a neighbor that his child was involved in an accident. He was eventually told by a doctor upon reaching the hospital that his daughter had died from a bullet wound.
The girl’s playmates, meanwhile, said they saw her shouting “Happy New Year!” before falling to the ground.
Police said they found the victim’s remains at a funeral parlor in Bacoor, Cavite.
At present, Modequillo said they are conducting a case conference on the girl’s death and have invited the owner of the house where the victim watched the fireworks display to shed light on the incident.
The police officer said the house owner is considered a person of interest because his statements contradict those given by his wife.
The owner of the house supposedly said he came from a drinking spree with his friends at the time of the incident while his wife said he was sleeping when it happened.
Modequillo, however, said the house owner has agreed to submit himself to a paraffin test.
While the incident occurred at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s day, Modequillo said the police were unable to begin its investigation into the girl’s death immediately since her parents only informed the authorities about it at around 10 a.m. of January 1, and the Las Piñas district hospital where she was rushed belatedly provided information on her case.
Following his daughter’s death, Gutierrez appealed to people with guns not to fire their weapons indiscriminately. He also asked the person responsible for shooting his child to surrender to the authorities.
The Philippine National Police said that as of 10 a.m. Monday, it has recorded 41 stray bullet-related injuries with no fatalities.
It has also recorded 54 stray bullet incidents.
The PNP’s stray bullet count, which started Dec. 16, 2015, will end on Tuesday, January 5. — Xianne Arcangel/ALG, GMA News