Two kinds of bullets used in killing priest; killer was “highly-trained shooter”

DAVAO CITY  (MindaNews/19 October) — Results of the autopsy conducted on the slain Italian missionary Fr. Fausto Tentorio, showed two kinds of bullets were used to kill Fr. Fausto Tentorio, raising questions two guns may have been used, Fr. Peter Geremia, an Italian missionary like Tentorio, said.

Citing the autopsy report, Geremia told MinadNews the assassin may have used two guns when he shot Fr. Tentorio, who was about to board his Suzuki Jimny at the convent’s garage, for the 52-kilometer ride to Kidapawan City, where he was supposed to attend the monthly Presbyterium of the Diocese of Kidapawan.

“But this is just a theory based on the slugs and fragments recovered from the body,” he said in a telephone interview.

Geremia, parish priest of Columbio town and head of the Indigenous Peoples Program of the Diocese until Tentorio assumed the post in June 2009, added only two slugs were recovered from near the waist while those recovered from the head and the chest were fragments.

Initial police reports said the gunman ran towards the road some 50 meters away, where an accomplice on a motorbike was waiting, then headed for the direction of Davao City’s Marahan district.

MindaNews phoned Chief Superintendent Lester Camba,  deputy regional director of the Philippine National Police but he could not be reached for comment.

But a police officer in North Cotabato told Mindanews he does not believe the assassin used two handguns. Instead, the suspect loaded two types of ammunitions in the 9mm pistol. The source added the suspect is a “highly-trained shooter.”

“It is impossible for the suspect to use two handguns in killing Fr. Tentorio. But based on the reports reaching us, the suspect loaded hard ball ammunition and hollow-point ammunition,” said the police officer who is a veteran field officer with vast experience in special tactical operations, but who asked not to be named as Camba is the authorized spokesperson.

He added that the 9mm’s hard ball ammunition tends to over penetrate while hollow-point ammunition is used to inflict maximum or fatal damage.

The police officer added that the hollow-point ammunition is used to inflict maximum tissue damage to the body.

Given the choice of ammunition and pattern of loading, he said the suspect is a highly-trained shooter.

“The suspect loaded the hard ball as his primary ammo and the hollow-point as secondary ammo. Why? Because a professional shooter knows how to handle the hollow-point ammo because it can be easily damaged in frequent gun clearing and loading,” the police officer explained.

He added that the suspect has definitely calculated his shots because he shot the target first in the “center mass,” the area of the body above the belt line and below the collar bone,”  to immobilize the priest.

When the priest was already down, the assassin finished him off with the hollow-point bullets  which were the secondary ammunition.

“A moving assassin cannot just shoot into the head in moving target as well. So where would he  shoot the target first? As a trained shooter, he knows that he should shoot him in the “center mass,” said the police officer.

He said it is hard for the assassin to shoot the target in the head because he  is also moving.

Asked if the hollow-point ammunition is a standard issue among the police and the military, the police officer said it is not because “it is expensive.” But it is available in gunstores for P60 to P80 each.”

While Arms Corporation of the Philippines (Armscor) posted on its website that as of 2009, the suggested retail price for 9mm ammunition ranges from P19 to P21 each. The hollow-point ammunition is not on the list. (Keith Bacongco/ MindaNews)